Donald Trump’s 2016 effort was born in the bowels of conservative talk radio. Former staffer (and current litigant) Sam Nunberg described, “listen[ing] to thousands of hours of talk radio” in order to hone the nascent campaign’s message in 2014.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Donald Trump has reportedly chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former talk radio host who once described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” as his running mate.
For months Trump’s campaign has been forced to confront a disturbing pattern of violence at its events and rallies. Just as Trump has defended supporters who have turned violent, Pence defended a conservative protestor who carried an assault rifle at an Obama event in 2011. The man had previously attended a church where the pastor “pray[ed] for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.” Responding to this incident, Pence compared carrying a weapon in close proximity to the president to carrying “placards” at an anti-war protest.
Numerous organizations (including us) have already pointed to Pence’s extreme anti-choice record. Like Trump, his rhetoric is on this issue is extreme, strange, and way out of sync with most Americans. In 2011, Pence spoke at the March for Life in Washington and defended House Republicans’ decision the previous year to vote on an anti-abortion bill before working on the core economic issues they had promised voters they would address.
“Amidst these struggles, some would have us focus our energies on jobs and spending. We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged,” Pence told the anti-abortion protestors. “Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a house divided, America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles.”
In other words, Pence believed — and proudly said — that it was a greater priority for Congress to pass a divisive anti-abortion than to address creating jobs.
Pence was also a cheerleader for the do-nothing Congress, bragging about the GOP’s ability to say “no” to progress on any issue. In 2010, he told a crowd of conservative activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):
Some folks like to call us the ‘party of no.’ Well, I say ‘no’ is way underrated in Washington, DC. Sometimes ‘no’ is just what this town needs to hear. When it comes to more borrowing, the answer is no. When it comes to more spending, the answer is no. When it comes to more bailouts, the answer is no. And when it comes to some health care summit that is nothing more than a photo-op to pave the way for Obamacare 2.0, the answer is no.
Pence, like Trump, has also show a disdain for the free press. As governor of Indiana, he attempted to thwart the media in his state capital by creating his own propaganda outlet, paid for with taxpayer dollars. The state-run news website, according to official documents, would “break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion.” Ultimately, after a public outcry about this abuse of government funds and runaround of the First Amendment, Pence scrapped the concept.
Extreme statements on social issues, defenses of guns at political rallies and attempts to thwart the press — Pence might not be as loud and brash as Trump, but he shares many of his worst traits. Perhaps just on decaf.