Mike Pence accepts Republican vice-presidential nomination

Indiana governor declares party unified behind Trump despite Cruz convention revolt

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (left), points toward Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana governor Mike Pence  after Mr Pence’s acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Photograph: AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (left), points toward Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana governor Mike Pence after Mr Pence’s acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Photograph: AP

 

Indiana governor Mike Pence formally accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination in Cleveland last night.

He used his prime-time address to the party’s nation convention as a rallying call to unify behind Donald Trump shortly after Ted Cruz refused to support the businessman, exposing again the fault lines created by Mr Trump in the party.

Despite the Texas senator’s non-endorsement, Mr Pence, the Irish-American former congressman, spoke of a party that had been unified at the Republican national convention in Ohio this week after Mr Trump secured a large majority of convention delegates to become the presidential nominee.

The 57-year-old conservative, picked by Mr Trump to bring the party together after his polarising campaign split Republicans, said the New York billionaire had run his presidential election campaign “all by himself, against the odds but this week, with this united party, he’s got backup.”

“And on November 8th, I know we will elect Donald Trump to be the 45th president of the United States of America,” Mr Pence told the crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena to rapturous applause.

Sidestepping the controversy and revolts of the Republican convention that have rattled the party this week, the governor declared Mr Trump was “ready, this team is ready, our party is ready.”

“And when we elect Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States, together we will make America great again!” he said, prompting the crowd to erupt in applause.

The Indiana politician, who served in congress for 12 years before he became governor of the mid-western state in 2013, delivered a measured, self-deprecating and at times funny speech that pleased delegates coming soon after Mr Cruz enraged them, reminding them of their divisions.

Mr Pence was chosen to sell the party’s ticket to social conservatives and evangelical Christians alienated by the twice-divorced Mr Trump and his past support of Democrats, divisive rhetoric, foul language, abrasive manner and flair for the unpredictable.

For those reasons, his speech last night focused largely on his running mate, attempting to sell the brash businessman to sceptical Republican voters and reassure them of his leadership qualities.

“You know, he’s a man known for a large personality, a colourful style and lots of charisma. And so, I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket,” said Mr Pence, to laughs from the crowd.

Self-effacing, he poked fun at his low profile in a speech that marked his arrival on the national political stage: “Well, for those of you who don’t know me, which is most of you.”

Chuckles from the crowd brought lighter moments to the convention floor which has been dominated this week by angry verbal attacks on the Obama administration and Mr Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and a deeply negative outlook on the US domestic situation.

Mr Pence did not avoid his own attack on Mrs Clinton, calling her “America’s secretary of the status quo” and pitching Mr Trump as a man who was shaking up the political establishment.

“The choice couldn’t be more clear. Americans can elect someone who literally personifies the failed establishment of Washington DC,” said the former Washington politician.

“Or we can choose a leaders who will fight every day to make America great again. It’s change versus status quo. And my fellow Republicans, when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America, the change will be ‘yuge’.”

He used Mr Trump’s characteristic pronunciation to the delight of the audience, who parroted the word back to him.

Mr Pence made a passing reference to his Irish roots in his speech. He grew up “on the front row of the American dream,” he said.

“My grandfather immigrated to this country,” he added, without referring to him by name or his homeland of Ireland. Mr Pence’s grandfather Richard Michael Cawley emigrated from Co Sligo in 1923 and became a bus driver in Chicago.

The speech came on a day of high drama and spectacle. Mr Trump arrived back in Cleveland from his home in New York to great fanfare, landing in his Boeing 757 airplane, dubbed “Trump Force One,” drawing intense coverage from the media that chronicled his every move.

Mr Trump will appear on stage tonight on the final day of the convention when he will formally accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination after being introduced by his daughter, Ivanka.