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Editorial: Pence can’t ‘balance’ Trump’s lack of qualifications

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during the Indiana Republican Party spring dinner in Indianapolis on April 21.
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

In tapping Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald J. Trump has come up with the ultimate balanced ticket. Unfortunately, Pence balances the ticket by having experience in government and an even temperament. That only underlines the fact that Trump spectacularly lacks both qualities.

Before becoming governor in 2013, Pence served more than a decade in the U.S. House, where he compiled a conservative voting record on both fiscal and social issues. He has been comparably conservative as governor — though some Christian conservatives were disappointed that, after signing a religious-freedom bill they sought, he later approved an amendment saying that the law couldn’t be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Pence has been more supportive of free-trade agreements than Trump. He also is on record as opposing Trump’s proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. — an idea Pence rightly called “offensive and unconstitutional.” But so do many Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan.

Whatever one thinks of Pence’s views — and we find many of them narrow-minded and troubling, such as his skepticism about climate change and his attacks on abortion rights — he possesses the sort of résumé that Americans traditionally expect in their presidents and vice presidents. He also is likely to be a less explosive and more disciplined running mate than either New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the other finalists.

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Yet, far from compensating for Trump’s deficiencies, Pence’s credentials bring them into sharper and more frightening relief. Even if Pence were the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln, his presence on the ticket won’t alter the fact that the Republican candidate for president is a shallow self-promoter who traffics in bigotry and bluster.

Far from compensating for Trump’s deficiencies, Pence’s credentials bring them into sharper and more frightening relief.

Much as we would like to hope Pence will help Trump mature as a candidate, it seems likely that Trump will have the final — and perhaps only — say during the campaign and in the unimaginable event that he is elected president.

Even more than in other presidential elections, voters this November will be paying attention to the candidates at the top of the ticket. That’s a problem for Pence, and for the Republican Party.

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