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GOP Convention Speaker Says Mike Pence Can Balance Out Conservative Side Trump Lacks


A lot of Republicans are sitting out the convention in Cleveland. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is not one of them. She'll be a featured speaker, and she joins us now on the line. Welcome to the program.

MARSHA BLACKBURN: Thank you. Delighted to be with you.

NEARY: Tell us, what does Governor Pence bring to the ticket that Donald Trump has been struggling to show to voters up until now?

BLACKBURN: Governor Pence brings several positives to the ticket. He is the perfect balance for Donald Trump. He is very reserved. He is a solid conservative, articulate, understands so many issues that deal with foreign policy because he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee during his time in Congress. And I think as the nation looks at the issues of national security, jobs and economic security, Mike Pence is the perfect balance to this ticket.

NEARY: Is there any way in which Mike Pence might, though, mute the appeal of Donald Trump, who has - is very popular because of his huge, big personality?

BLACKBURN: Well, Donald Trump is very popular. And there are some of his supporters that were hopeful they were going to get a libertarian-type candidate on the ticket with Donald Trump. I think what Mike Pence will do is balance that to the conservative side. I also think that when you look at the African-American community and the Hispanic community and how pro-life those communities are - the Catholic church and how pro-life they are, Mike Pence is going to help in that regard.

NEARY: Mike Pence has disagreed with Donald Trump about a lot of things. He supported - Pence supported the Iraq War. As a congressman, he voted for free trade agreements. I think he has spoke out critically about Donald Trump's call for not allowing Muslims into the country. Will Pence have an influence on Trump over issues like these?

BLACKBURN: Knowing Mike Pence and having worked with him in the House, what Mike Pence is going to bring is a different approach and a thought. And he will be the one to sit at the table with Mr. Trump and say, well, let's think about this another way. Or let's think about other implications. That is healthy in the process of the debate. And I look forward to seeing Mr. Pence bring some of those new ideas forward.

NEARY: As we've been talking about, a lot of Republicans aren't going to the convention. And many say they will never support Donald Trump. Are you doing anything to try and convince those people that they're wrong, that they should support Donald Trump?

BLACKBURN: I'm reminding many of those individuals every chance that I get that when we focus on personalities, we lose. When we focus on principles and policies and people, we win. So I have said, come on, get over yourself. And there are plenty of times I have supported our ticket because I agreed with them more than I disagreed with them. And my hope is that we're going to see that same approach come to bear - that people will kind of move past it and realize, yes, they do need to support the ticket.

NEARY: Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn represents the 7th District of Tennessee. Thanks so much for joining us.

BLACKBURN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.