On Friday morning, Trump took to Twitter to announce that Pence, a Christian conservative and culture warrior who is a favorite of the Evangelical right, will join him at the top of the Republican ticket.
"I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate," Trump tweeted. "News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M."
Pence's unveiling was orginially scheduled to take place Friday but Trump postponed the announcement in the wake of the attack in Nice, France.
Trump's tweet comes after a chaotic day filled with leaks and haphazard denials from his team as they tried to keep the pick under wraps. Throughout the day, his advisers and adult children insisted Trump had not decided between Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Chris Christie.
Before they forged a partnership, Pence publicly split with Trump–often on Twitter–on issues which have formed the foundation of his candidacy.
In the fall of 2014, Pence tweeted, “trade means jobs, but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership.” Trump, of course, is a longtime critic of TPP. On Wednesday, his campaign sent out a press release condemning Hillary Clinton for her support of the trade deal.
And in December of 2015, amid Trump’s suggestion that all Muslims be banned from immigrating to the United States for an undisclosed amount of time, Pence tweeted, “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”
It seems unlikely, however, that Pence’s policy disagreements with his running mate will deter Trump supporters, who have forgiven their candidate for a multitude of flip flops and changes of heart on issues ranging from abortion to the Iraq War.
And when it comes to conventional political experience, Pence makes up for what Trump lacks.
In addition to his executive experience governing Indiana, Pence’s service in Congress–including a stint in Republican leadership–gives Trump a foothold in Washington, a place where the celebrity mogul-turned-politician has not been welcomed with open arms.
Pence also brings message discipline, which has historically eluded The Donald.
As the head of the House Republican Conference, Pence was in charge of communications for the GOP. He developed a reputation for a strict adherence to his talking points, never veering off message or relinquishing control of the conversation. During his tenure in Congress he would frequently tell reporters, “I’m a conservative but I'm not angry about it."
Trump, on the other hand, has yet to find a tangent he doesn’t like to veer off on and loves nothing more than riling up a crowd with obscenities and insults.
Pence brings with him a loyal band of experienced political advisers who have close relationships with and strong ties to deep-pocketed GOP donors—including the Koch brothers, who have been reluctant to embrace Trump as the party’s de facto leader.
But beyond Pence’s experience, establishment network and ability to not sound like he’s had a psychotic break, he doesn’t expand Trump’s reach aside from Republican voters that—in any normal election year—would have been there anyway.
Pence is from a state that is nearly 86 percent white, according to the US Census Bureau, and has voted Republican four times in the past five cycles (Obama defeated John McCain there in 2008 by one percentage point).
He also is unpopular at home.
Last year, Pence came under fire when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a law that allowed business owners to discriminate against potential customers based on sexual orientation, surrounded by anti-gay marriage advocates who helped him push it through (even though supporters insisted it was about religious freedom rather than sexual orientation).
Indiana lost 12 conventions and up to $60 million as businesses chose to take their events elsewhere. Pence’s approval rating fell 15 points.
That backlash effectively ended his own ambitions for a presidential bid and left him vulnerable to defeat in the gubernatorial election this November.
A May poll, by Christine Matthews of Bellwether Research and commissioned by Enterprise Republicans PAC, showed Pence just four points ahead of his Democratic challenger John Gregg.
This is noteworthy, since Indiana is a ruby red state that rarely throws an incumbent governor overboard after the first term.
In the hours leading up to his alleged selection, Pence left Indiana on a private plane Thursday to take him to New York ahead of the official announcement.
But even before then, there were clues he was Trump’s man. His longtime pollster, Kellyanne Conway, recently joined the Trump campaign.
On Tuesday, Pence attended a high dollar fundraiser with Trump and on Wednesday, Trump, his children and his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, visited Pence at his home in Indianapolis. (Trump also sat down with potential pick former Speaker Newt Gingrich and spoke on the phone with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie).
While Pence appears to have made an impression on the Trump family, there are others in his orbit that the Indiana governor has yet to impress.
When asked what he thought about Pence’s addition to the Republican ticket, Roger Stone, a longtime friend and sometimes adviser to Trump, replied, "Who is Pence?"
Contributing: Patricia Murphy