Genius Panelists Hold Divergent Views on Trump/Pence

blue 01This week’s question: What do you think of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Donald Trump’s running mate? Will it help him emerge from the GOP national convention with a unified party?

Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor and cabinet member in Bush II administration. Mike Pence, is an excellent pick by Donald Trump.  As a former member of Congress and governor, Pence brings the bon-a-fides of a person who can navigate and interpret Washington politics.  He has the temperament of a serious problem solver.  He will help appeal to the evangelical right and help sure up a must-win state.

Dan Liljenquist, former state senator and U.S. Senate candidate. Donald Trump made a solid decision by tapping Pence as his running mate.  Pence is well known and respected among Republican circles.  To many, he will be viewed as the steady hand, the sober counterweight to the impulsive, emotional Trump.  Pence will help bring some establishment Republicans to the Trump train, if only because many of them harbor a secret hope that Trump is only joking about wanting to be President of the United States and will just hand the job over to Pence after the election.

Pence makes the Democrats nervous, and they are rushing to define him.  I have read no less than two dozen columns in the last few days criticizing Pence as the mini-Trump, the anti-Trump, the free-trade crusader, the protectionist, the radical Christian, the anti-Catholic.  If he can survive the initial onslaught (and I think he will), Pence can change the narrative of the Trump campaign, bringing much-needed credibility and gravitas.  I expect Pence will hold up well in the bright spotlight of the presidential campaign.”

Richard Kendell, former Davis School District superintendent, Commissioner of Higher Education, and gubernatorial advisor. Admittedly I don’t know a lot about Governor Pence.  Certainly, I share this lack information with many others.  What I do know is that he is very conservative, significantly right of center, and has a record of being pro-gun, pro-life, pro-school vouchers, and an outspoken opponent of core curriculum standards.  He is a religious man and wears it on his sleeve from time to time.  I guess this will appeal to some evangelical voters.  

I don’t think he adds significantly to Trump’s bid for the presidency nor does he have much of a chance to unify the Republican Party let alone unify the country around solutions to important issues.  Pence should not be too concerned that he will be thrust into the shadows.  Trump is the whole show, and as such, simply cannot be complemented by another person.  He has spent a lifetime building a bigger than life persona and he will likely fail or succeed on the value and/or effectiveness of that persona.  His policy portfolio is thin and he seems to be uninformed about important matters that a presidential candidate should know rather well.  

Admittedly, he did preside over the Miss Universe competition so his foreign policy experience is not completely void. (Sorry, I stole that line)  Trump has no unifying presence or plan.  On the contrary, he is divisive and derisive of those who disagree with him.  Those who have the temerity to disagree with him are typically “ugly,” “awkward,”  “stupid” or of “the wrong religion or gender”  So in Trump’s world these people will have no seat at his table.  It is okay by me; I prefer to dine elsewhere. Moreover, gold furniture makes me nervous. Governor Pence will not be able to make up for Trump’s deficiencies.  I hope he will keep an eye on a good job in the private sector.  For Trump all I can add is, “Where is Mark Twain when we need him most.”

Michael Mower, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Herbert, state planning coordinator, etc. Indiana Governor Pence is a recognized conservative leader.  It is nice having someone with significant legislative experience at the national level and executive experience at the state level on the GOP ticket.  His addition to the ticket will provide significant balance to go along with Mr. Trump’s private sector background.  

Nolan Karras, former gubernatorial candidate, House speaker and education reformer. Pence is a smart choice for Republican solidarity but I don’t see it adding to Trump’s electability with those he needs to attract to win Independents and minorities. Two old white men will not do the trick.

Howard Headlee, president, Utah Bankers Association. Mike Pence would represent the first, really good, big decision made by Donald Trump in his campaign to become President.  Congratulations to him.  However, a nominee’s decision on a running mate is just that, a single decision.  In the end, it’s only value is what it tells us about the nominee for President.  Based upon what I have heard and seen over the past several months, I’m afraid that the only single decision that Donald Trump could make that would begin to unify the party would be the decision to withdraw.

Todd Weiler, state senator and former state GOP vice chair. Governor Pence says that he was “tea party before the tea party was cool.”  And he endorsed Ted Cruz. In that sense, conservatives should be pleased with Trump’s choice. 

But Trump’s real problem is Trump. He’s an egomaniac who likes to say derogatory things. I don’t think Pence will make much of a difference. The Republicans may unify against Hillary, but they still won’t rally around Trump.   

Steve Handy, state legislator and former Layton Council member. At first blush, great pick Mr. Trump. Gingrich? Oh my. From all of the chatter I’m reading and hearing, Gov. Pence has legitimate conservative credentials and a D.C. track record to boot.

He should be able to balance out the erratic, unpredictable, and often boorish Trump.

However, will the Pence selection make a difference come November? Regardless of how smart or savvy of a pundit you are, no one really knows. But one thing’s for sure, we’re in for a rough, and tumultuous roller coaster ride. 

You think Lagoon’s Cannibal coaster is extreme? As rock group Bachman Turner Overdrive sang: “You ain’t seen nothing yet, B-b-baby you just ain’t seen n-n-nothing yet! Here’s something, here’s something, here’s something you will never forget!”

Last week after the legislative special session one of my colleagues said he could vote for Trump (and this was before the ticket rounded out) because he thought “that Trump was so hollow he could be easily influenced!” Hmmmmm…

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, keep your hands and feet inside the car and enjoy the ride!”

W. Val Oveson, former state auditor, lieutenant governor and National Taxpayer Advocate. The selection of Governor Mike Pence from Indiana will not help Donald Trump get elected. As another white middle aged male, Pence won’t do anything to help bring those disaffected by Trump back to the fold. From what I have seen, Pence is not a dynamic speaker and will have trouble rallying the Republicans against Hillary. However, if Trump is elected, Governor Pence would be effective in promoting the President’s agenda to Congress, if he is allowed to do so.

Mark Bouchard, senior managing direction, Southwest Region, CBRE Utah, and education reformer. I think for the average American outside Indiana and not active in the GOP, Governor Pence was not the “WOW” factor that might prove helpful. The question I find myself asking, who might have been the “WOW” factor possibilities and why didn’t they step up to work as Mr. Trumps No. 2?

Examples of a “WOW” VP choice might have included Condoleezza Rice, Paul Ryan or even the likes of Michele Bachmann. Mr. Trump’s challenge is one of association and whether or not there’s room in his campaign for someone else to have a voice other than him.

This 2016 presidential race will likely go down as the most talked about time in political history. Governor Pence’s addition would not have probably taken place 5-6 years ago; however, it speaks to how things change in politics wherein this option is now appealing to him.

There’s also a clear message that Mr. Trump has sent to the nation regarding his stance on Human Rights, more particularly his position related to the LGBT community across the nation. Interestingly, Governor Pence endorsed Ted Cruz during the Primary and publicly denounced Mr. Trump’s position regarding the banning of Muslims entering the U.S. 

At the end of the day, it’s politics in all its glory and I think Governor Pence and Mr. Trump have a lot of work to do to convince Americans they have the answers.