Indiana Jews React to Pence as Trump’s VP Pick

Donald Trump picking Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate has made it easier for Jewish voters to support the Republican presidential ticket in the fall, say those who know Pence well.

“I think there’s no question about that,” Doug Rose, a long-time friend of Pence, told Jewish Insider on Friday when asked if the Indiana Governor helps Trump with Jewish voters. “He is so unabashedly pro-Israel in every respect, and he is not afraid to demonstrate it and be vocal about it. I think it bodes well for the U.S.-Israel relationship if they manage to get elected.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council, in their reaction to Trump’s vice presidential pick, called the Republican ticket “trief” (non-kosher). “In his latest effort to alienate Jewish voters even further, Donald Trump decided to double-down on his treifness in the Jewish community,” the NJDC said in a statement. “Like the top of the Republican ticket, Gov. Mike Pence’s record is clearly out of step with Jewish Americans. When it comes to Jewish voters throughout America, Trump and Pence are simply treif.”

But according to Gary Schahet, a friend of the Indiana Gov. for 16 years, Pence with his record and demeanor will be seen as a “calming influence” on the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. “Mike (Pence) is a friend of the Jewish community and a strong friend of Israel,” Schahet told Jewish Insider in a phone interview. “When Indiana signed in the anti-BDS law, he said to me, ‘I think and I hope it’s the strongest anti-BDS legislation in the country. We want to be a leader.’ I think he will be seen as a calming influence — you know, he may have disagreed with his colleagues in the House of Representatives but they all had respect for him. And I think that’s a positive.”

Rose, who accompanied Pence on his 2004 trip to Israel, touted Pence’s relationship with the Indiana Jewish community, describing him as someone who’s very comfortable with Jewish tradition and who brings a cheerful, personable approach to policy matters and communicating with people that disagree with him. “He’s not a finger-in-your-face kind of ‘my way or the highway’ guy,” he said. “He seeks consensus. He likes to listen, has very strong personal convictions — you know, conservatism with a smile.”

Hudson Institute CEO Ken Weinstein told Jewish Insider, “I’ve known Mike for 25 years. He is a great American, solid and grounded in the Midwest but with a global vision. A genuine leader who knows foreign policy and national security issues well. He is a great friend of Israel. Love of Israel is something he feels very, very deeply in his heart – and it is at the core of who he is.”

 A new national poll, published on Monday, showed that while voters see a vice presidential pick as important to their vote, most say Trump’s choice of Pence as a running mate will not affect how they vote in the fall. However, only 16% say they are more likely to vote for Trump because of his choice of Pence as his running mate, and just as many (16%) say the selection makes them less likely to vote for the likely Republican nominee. Sixty-four percent (64%) say adding Pence to the ticket will have no impact on their voting decision. Among Republicans, 26% are more likely to support Trump now with Pence as his running mate, a view shared by just nine percent (9%) of Democrats and 14% of voters not affiliated with either major party. Twelve percent of Republican voters, 21 percent of Democrats and 13 percent of independents are less likely to vote for the Republican candidate now, according to Monday’s Rasmussen poll.

Pence is expected to address Republican delegates and introduce himself to voters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Wednesday.

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