During his speech officially naming Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump managed to stop talking about Donald Trump long enough to mention Pence, whom he praised as a "solid, solid person" whose leadership he discovered after crushing the guy Pence endorsed in the primary.
Trump took the stage shortly after 11 Saturday somewhere in Indiana while a Bill and Ted-esque rendition of the National Anthem played. He spent a good amount of time doing his usual thing — talking about building a wall and crushing enemies and, of course, spending several minutes trashing his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, whom he literally said "got away with murder" and drove the Middle East into unprecedented instability while serving as Secretary of State under President Obama.
“She led him right down a horrible path. He didn't know what he was doing," he said. "Iraq, Syria, all into chaos. And Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons.”
A man known for gorgeously stupefying similes, Trump added that he wants to bring back the manufacturing jobs that have "been taken away, like we're babies."
Nearly four minutes in, he finally mentioned his VP pick.
"Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice. I've admired the work he's done, especially in Indiana," he said, praising his leadership for about 40 seconds before going back to trashing Clinton, whom he called "the embodiment of corruption."
Indiana's primary, was of course, a turning point for Trump's campaign. Had he not won it, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz might have had a shot at the presidency.
Pence endorsed Cruz.
“It was the single greatest non-endorsement I have had in my life,” Trump said.
Multiple times, Trump brought up how badly he beat Cruz in that contest (and others), and how the #NeverTrump movement “got crushed and they got crushed immediately.”
One reason he picked Pence, he said, was “party unity,” given the problem some conservatives have with Trump's supportive attitudes on LGBT equality and (in the past, anyway) abortion. Pence, by contrast, is about as Bible-thumpin' as you can get.
After more than 20 minutes, Trump finally let Pence speak.
"Would you join me in thanking Donald Trump, Melania and his entire family for the sacrifices that they are making to make America great again?" Pence said as he stood onstage alone. "And I thank Donald Trump for the confidence you've put in us and I accept your invitation to run and serve as Vice President of the United States of America.”
He went on for about 11 minutes, touting fiscal responsibility, Christian “values,” etc., and said Indiana's economic improvements are the result not of the global economic recovery, but of GOP policies.
"Indiana works because Republican principles work when you put them into practice," he said.
Pence said he accepted the invitation to be Trump's running mate for a couple of reasons. One, he said, “strong Republican leadership can bring about real change,” and two, “because Hillary Clinton must never become President of the United States of America.” The latter, as you probably imagine, got roaring cheers and applause.
While Saturday's announcement made Trump's VP pick official, it was made apparent that was going to happen Thursday.
Clinton's team quickly went on the offensive, digging up anecdotes demonstrating some of Pence's extreme positions, and issued a statement calling him “the most extreme VP pick in generations.”
The Dems criticized Pence's work to defund Planned Parenthood, his opposition to the Clean Power Plan, his "A" grade from the NRA, Indiana's having joined the lawsuit to oppose Obama's executive order on immigration and his support of anti-LGBT legislation that caused a national backlash against Indiana.
“Pence upended his own Presidential aspirations by embracing one of the most backward anti-LGBT laws in the country,” said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, in a written statement.
The partnership also got a sizable helping of ridicule courtesy of the Internet Friday with the release of the campaign logo, in which the long part of the "T" in Trump ...er... penetrates the hole in the "P" in Pence.
The campaign has since switched to a more subdued logo.
The two will appear next week in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, the event at which Trump's nomination becomes official.
CL is up in Cleveland all week, serving up some hot bits from inside and outside the convention walls. Follow us on Twitter at @cl_tampabay for some juiciness.