Washington: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump today hinted that Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be his vice-presidential running mate.
“I think Newt (Gingrich) is a fantastic person. I think Chris Christie is a fantastic person, been a friend of mine for 15 years. And there's Mike, and Mike has done a great job as Governor of Indiana. You look at the numbers, and it's been great -- he's done really a fantastic job. But I haven't made a final, final decision,” he told Fox News earlier on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Trump had held a series of auditions with Pence and other top contenders, including Christie and Gingrich.
On Thursday, despite sources indicating to CNN that Trump was strongly leaning toward Pence, others in his inner circle -- including Trump's son, Donald Jr. -- repeatedly urged caution.
Trump initially suggested he would wait until the Republican National Convention to unveil his vice presidential choice, but Indiana law forced his hand and made the announcement in this regard late on Thursday.
Pence's selection gives Trump a running mate with strong ties to the Republican base -- particularly social conservatives.
Pence is seen as a safe political option for Trump, who also considered candidates who mirror his big personality such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
But Pence made clear this week that he's more than willing to play the role of attack dog, strongly criticising Democratic Hillary Clinton during a rally with Trump.
Pence had endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz over Trump before Indiana's crucial early May primary -- a contest Trump won, knocking Cruz from the contest and clinching the nomination.
He has not avoided criticising Trump, though. He called Trump's attacks on an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage "inappropriate", and said his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US was "offensive and unconstitutional".
Recently, after meeting Trump on July 2, Pence said: "I'm supporting Trump because we need change in this country, and I believe he represents the kind of strong leadership at home and abroad that will, to borrow a phrase, make America great again."
Pence, a social conservative, stepped into a series of controversies over LGBT rights.
Indiana became the subject of a media storm in 2010 when Pence signed into law a "religious freedom" measure that would have allowed companies to assert that their exercise of religion had been violated as a defence if sued for turning away customers.
With IANS Inputs