Do we remember that Mike Pence was Paul Manafort’s choice for Veep? Trump was set on Chris Christie and didn’t seem terribly comfortable with Pence. But Manafort was dead set on it and even resorted to tricking Trump about mechanical problems on his plane to keep Trump in Indianapolis to seal the deal with Pence.
From a 2016 report from CBS …
Christie, the first former presidential candidate to get behind Trump after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary, had assumed a high profile role on the campaign prior to the Convention – reaching out to donors and potential high profile supporters.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, allegedly had another idea in mind.
Manafort had arranged for Trump to meet with his first choice for the job on July 13: Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Afterwards, the plans was for Trump and Pence to then fly back to New York together and a formal announcement would be made, a campaign source said of Manafort’s thinking.
What had previously been reported as a “lucky break” by the New York Times was actually a swift political maneuver devised by the now fired campaign manager. Set on changing Trump’s mind, he concocted a story that Trump’s plane had mechanical problems, forcing the soon-to-be Republican nominee to stay the night in Indianapolis for breakfast with the Pence family on Wednesday morning.
Swayed by Pence’s aggressive pitch, Trump agreed to ditch Christie and make Pence his VP the following day, according to a source.
Of course, this doesn’t mean there was anything conspiratorial about the decision. From a purely political perspective there was a strong logic. Pence was the candidate of the Christian right, party evangelicals. Picking him signaled that whatever kind of libertine or buffoon Trump himself might be, he’d deliver on the traditionalist, authoritarian agenda. Which of course he has. But it’s a good example of how key a player Manafort was on the Trump campaign during a critical period of the campaign. How could he not be? He was the campaign manager. That’s a pretty key job.