Is Mike Pence Actually Close Friends With Donald Trump?

When Donald Trump announced Mike Pence as his running mate for the 2016 Presidential election, he actually favored another contender with whom he had a close friendship. On the advice of family and his own political consultants, however, Trump chose Pence as the most sensible and politically savvy choice for his vice president. Those with a voice in Trump’s ear continued to stress that he “was selecting a running mate to unite the Republican Party, not a new best friend.

In fact, Pence himself had initially endorsed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination. True to his reputation as having a penchant for shrewdness, Pence managed to support Cruz while keeping the door open for Trump. So, the working relationship appears to be an enduring one between POTUS and his second in command.

Happy birthday!

Comparisons have abounded between the obvious friendship between the Trump administration’s predecessors, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and that of the current duo. One such standard references the celebratory scene of each vice president’s birthday, or the lack thereof as the case may be.

Pence’s last birthday initially received best wishes from Ivanka on her Twitter account followed by a repost of that same message from Trump on his Instagram board. It is certainly evidence that the two lack the genuine kind of friendship that Obama and Biden have forged. Obama’s festive sense of ribbing Biden for his missteps while wishing him well is a far cry from Trump’s obvious lack of effort.

Unlikely bedfellows

Mike Pence

Mike Pence | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Pence brought not only his crystal-clean reputation, but he also offered the type of diplomatic cache that Trump required. As part of the Koch Brothers network, Pence offers formidable support for the type of policy change Trump has envisioned. Some of which include tax cuts, the opening of public land to mining, and the elimination of many environmental regulations.

He’s forged the type of solid relationships with Washington insiders that have escaped Trump. Endorsements by former House Speaker, Paul Ryan, and Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitchell McConnell, attest to the respect he’s earned among his peers.

Pence also brought with him the conservative Christian vote, which actually contributes to a source of tension between the two men. While Christian support has provided a firm base for Trump’s political ambitions, it also represents the enigma that Pence’s own strong religious beliefs hold for him.

Mistaken loyalty

While still Governor of Indiana, Pence had his eye on the presidency. Some say that’s still where his steely gaze is positioned. Others mistake his loyalty as annoyingly deferential. However Pence is portrayed, he plays his part with expert adeptness.

Pence’s role is to defend his president. His former press secretary, Marc Lotter, spoke to this conundrum that Pence faces as Trump’s defender: “I do think it’s laughable that he’s being attacked for being too loyal to the president while on the other side that he’s creating some sort of shadow campaign 50 feet from the Oval Office.”

Most recently, Pence has risen to Trump’s defense for the government shutdown by answering questions on an ABC News interview: “I think President Trump is prepared to do what’s necessary to address a real humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Look, John, the American people need to know that the situation on our southern border has become what the Washington Post said is a bona fide emergency.”

A symbiotic relationship 

Whatever your personal opinions are of these two men and their politics, it’s clear that they make the relationship between them work. They may not enjoy the same closeness that others in their position have, but that’s not one of the requirements of their respective jobs.