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At a surreal GOP convention, Mike Pence brings proceedings back to earth

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana blows a kiss to his wife as he speaks on the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)
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In a convention marked by the unconventional, Mike Pence made his mark Thursday night by sticking with a traditional script.

The Indiana governor hit all the standard notes for a high-profile political address Wednesday night: introducing himself to unfamiliar voters, extolling his running mate and making an explicit appeal to independent and Democratic voters.

That typical approach has been in short supply at the GOP nominating confab in Cleveland, with its outsized focus on base-pleasing issues like Benghazi and speakers whose anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric is matched only by the audience’s preferred chant of “Lock her up!”

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Adding to the unreality was Sen. Ted Cruz’s nonendorsement of Donald Trump just an hour before Pence took the stage, prompting a chaotic backlash from attendees.

But Pence appeared unfazed by the clamor, smoothly delivering a recitation of Trump’s attributes and promising a capable team to win the White House in November.

“You have nominated a man for president who never quits, who never backs down — a fighter, a winner,” Pence said of his running mate. “Until now he’s had to do it all by himself against all odds. But this week, with this united party, he’s got backup.”

Trump’s tapping of Pence, a Christian conservative, was seen as a way to mollify the party’s base. But Pence made a clear bid for voters outside the Republican fold.

“The establishment in Washington, D.C., thinks it’s only a narrow range of voters who are giving Donald Trump a serious look,” Pence said.

But, he added: “There’s a lot of voters out there who feel like the Democrat party has taken them for granted.”

Pence specifically mentioned union members, African Americans and Latinos as voters who would be drawn into the GOP ticket’s promise to “make America great again.”

“It will be our party and our agenda that opens the doors for every American to succeed and prosper,” he said.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

Follow @melmason for the latest on national politics

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Watch: Mike Pence looks to America’s future in convention speech


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