Indiana Governor Endorses Donald Trump

by | May 6, 2016 AT 2:00 PM

By Nick Hedrick

A spirit of bipartisanship dominated Gov. Mike Pence's appearance with predecessor and former Sen. Evan Bayh on Thursday at Indiana State University, but reporters didn't let them leave the stage without addressing presidential politics.

Speaking to local media following the event, Republican Pence said he "looked forward" to supporting presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, but isn't interested in joining the ticket as a vice presidential running mate.

He praised Trump's performance in Tuesday's Indiana primary -- where the billionaire former reality TV star swept more than half of his ticket's vote -- and batted away concerns about Trump's name appearing above his own re-election bid on November's ballot.

"I'm going to campaign hard for the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in the White House," he said, blaming the bankruptcy of Peabody Energy and Carrier's decision to move 1,400 Hoosier jobs to Mexico on policies from President Barack Obama's administration.

Much buzz surrounded who Pence would endorse leading up to the state's primary. While he threw his support behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who bowed out of the race following Tuesday's results, the governor told Indianapolis radio station WIBC he would back whichever candidate his party selects.

In the same interview, he lauded Trump's opposition to Carrier.

But as the election moves forward, Pence said he remains committed to his duties as governor. He was touted as a possible vice presidential nominee in this campaign cycle as early as 2013.

"This is an exciting time in the life our state," he said.

Bayh, when asked if he had an opinion on the presidential race, joked about the noisy television network coverage of the campaigns.

"Only when I can't put the channel on mute quick enough," Bayh, who served as governor from 1989-1997 and senator from 1999-2011, said with a laugh.

Bayh is supporting his friend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and campaigned for her in Indiana last month. But he saluted her challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the state's primary.

The candidacies of Sanders and Trump, he said, are a product of the public's frustration and anger with the political establishment.

"And I think that's perfectly understandable," Bayh added. "You know, Washington's been stuck and hadn't really been doing the people's business, so I think it's perfectly normal that folks would be looking for something out of the ordinary."

Bayh himself has been a frequent name on the media's shortlist of VP picks, including when Bayh traveled the state with Clinton during her first White House bid in 2008.

As she all but secures her party's nomination this year, would Bayh be second in command if Clinton takes office?

"I think that's highly unlikely," he told the Tribune-Star, "but I think if the president of the United States calls you and says that your country needs you, there's only one answer you can give, and that's yes."

(c)2016 The Tribune-Star (Terre Haute, Ind.)