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And Trump reportedly waffled on his choice until the very end, debating whether to go with Pence or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, although once making the choice to select Pence, Trump boasted that the Indiana Republican was “straight from central casting.”
A former campaign aide said that one of Trump’s biggest issues with the then-Indiana governor was that he was not particularly wealthy. Trump also seemed wary of Pence’s strong social conservative views prior to making the selection.
Pence, however, reportedly pleased Trump by playing a round of golf with him at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, later telling the press that the future president “beat me like a drum.”
Still, Trump came close to picking Christie.
After visiting Pence in Indiana, The New Yorker reported that Trump called Christie and said, “I’ve got a question for you. Are you ready?”
Here’s the rest of the dialogue from that call, according to The New Yorker:
“Ready for what?” Christie responded.
“Ready to do this with me,” Trump said.
“Are you offering?” Christie said.
“I’m asking you – but you’ve got to make sure you’re ready,” Trump said.
“I’m as tough as they come,” Christie said.
“O.K.,” Trump said. “I’m making the decision tomorrow. Stay by your phone.”
With Christie’s detractors pointing to the Bridgegate controversy, however, Trump was “led into” choosing Pence, as a top Trump campaign aide told the publication.
“Pence was made the most palatable choice by those around him,” the aide said.
But even after aides leaked that Trump was set to pick Pence, who flew to New York for the announcement, Trump asked staffers if he could back out of the decision.
He later called Christie and reportedly said “they’re telling me I have to pick him.”
“It’s central casting,” Trump said. “He looks like a vice president.”
He would repeat that line days later behind the scenes at the Republican National Convention.
“Isn’t he just perfect?” Trump reportedly asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich backstage as Pence delivered his acceptance speech. “Straight from central casting.”