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The Journal Gazette

Monday, July 25, 2016 12:31 pm

Call to nominate Pence stuns Holcomb

Niki Kelly and Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

Indiana Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb was relaxing in Cleveland on Tuesday when he got an unexpected call – a request to nominate Gov. Mike Pence for vice president in just a few hours at the Republican National Convention.

"I found out after lunch and didn’t even have time to focus," he said.

Standing at the stage podium and looking out onto thousands of delegates and press, Holcomb said he almost saw the scene in black-and-white in his head.

That’s because Holcomb is a student of history – aka political geek who collects presidential signatures – and has convention photos hanging on a wall of his basement.

"To see our state and our party playing such a role … " Holcomb trailed off.

When he walked off the stage, he went right back to the Indiana delegation and did what every son does – called his mom, who was celebrating her birthday.

"It was amazing," Holcomb said.

Nowhere to go but up for Pence

An early look at Mike Pence’s effect on the presidential race shows America just doesn’t know much about the Indiana governor.

Pence was officially nominated as the GOP vice presidential candidate Tuesday night, and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll released Wednesday morning shows he has some work to do increasing his name identification.

About 26 percent of those polled July 15-18 had a favorable opinion of Pence, with 26 percent unfavorable. But 48 percent said they don’t know enough to say.

Pence – who many believe will help bring the Republican Party’s conservative base to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump – is also unknown among conservative voters, however.

About 47 percent of those who identify as very conservative said Pence was a good choice for Trump’s running mate. But a similar share of those who identify as very conservative – 43 percent – said they don’t know enough to say whether Pence was a good or bad choice, indicating that even conservatives don’t yet know who he is.

Voter preference also doesn’t seem to be influenced much by Trump’s decision to choose Pence, as 76 percent of voters said Trump’s decision did not make any difference in whether or not they will vote for him in November.

Twelve percent said having Pence on the ticket makes it more likely they would vote for Trump, but 10 percent said Pence makes it less likely.

The survey used a national sample of 3,646 adults who said they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

As time goes by

What a difference a year makes in politics.

July 20, 2015: Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., criticizes Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump for saying Arizona Sen. John McCain was not a war hero just because McCain had been captured, imprisoned and tortured during the Vietnam War.

"In one of his books, Donald Trump writes, ‘If you stay silent, people will eventually make fools of themselves without your help at all.’ While candor is refreshing, The Donald’s bombastic comments about Senator McCain reveal what he is really all about: The Donald," Coats said in a statement issued by his staff.

July 20-21, 2016: Coats blasts Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for failing to endorse GOP presidential nominee Trump during a speech in which Cruz instructs delegates at the Republican National Convention to "vote your conscience" in the Nov. 8 general election.

"Sen. Cruz tried to destroy the Republican Party tonight just like he’s tried to destroy the Republican caucus" in the Senate, Coats told Roll Call. "I’ve had to deal with the most self-centered person I’ve ever known in my life."

Coats told the In­dianapo­lis Star that Cruz "only thinks of himself, he doesn’t think about party. He’s a wrecking ball."

According to Trump’s campaign website, Coats as of Friday had not formally endorsed Trump. In May, Coats communications director Matt Lahr told The Journal Gazette that Coats was supporting Trump, and Lahr repeated that message Friday.

"Senator Coats fully supports Donald Trump and is excited about the Trump/Pence ticket," Lahr said in an email.

Coats had formally endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president in February, during the primary election season.

Now, George …

If you go looking for information on the Trump-Pence Republican ticket, you might get more than you bargained for.

The Indiana Democratic Party snatched up the domain – and it automatically directs Americans and national media to Gov. Mike Pence’s best-known interview.

"For Americans who are seeing Mike Pence for the first time, it’s worth reminding them about the interview that really defines just the kind of governor and politician he is. Mike Pence can’t ‘Oh, George’ his way out of interviews if he truly wants to be vice president," said Drew Anderson, communications director for the Indiana Democrats.

"The fact is, Gov. Pence is an ideologue who prioritizes his out-of-touch political agenda – including the embarrassing (religious freedom restoration act) – ahead of the state’s well-being and economy 100 percent of the time."

The famous George Stephanopoulos interview came last spring when the state was in turmoil about a bill touted as protecting religious freedom but seen by many as a way for people to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers.

During the national interview Pence ducked and dodged whether the bill would allow businesses to refuse to serve gays – he wouldn’t say "yes" or "no." And he repeatedly seemed exasperated when addressing "George."

Bernie march

More than 100 people are expected to participate today in a March for Bernie event in downtown Fort Wayne.

The march will start at noon today at the Allen County Courthouse. Those participating will then walk from the courthouse to the Martin Luther King Jr. bridge, Aleasa Friedley, an organizer of the march, said Friday. The event is in solidarity with other ­marches taking place in 65 cities across the country to support U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Friedley said.

Sanders, who challenged Clinton during the primary race, officially endorsed his opponent last week.

"We are trying to send a clear message to the Democratic National Convention that we are all independents and Democratic voters who will not vote for Hillary Clinton," Friedley said. "We believe that Bernie is the best man for the job, that he was forced into endorsing Clinton, that he is still a presidential candidate. Clinton’s numbers are slipping and Bernie is the one to beat Donald Trump."

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at