By Emily Stephenson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump will meet this weekend with Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a Pence spokesman said on Friday, after a report the governor was being vetted as a potential running mate for the Republican presidential candidate.
As the Republican candidate for vice president, Pence, a social conservative from a Midwestern state, could help the real estate mogul reassure wary Republicans.
The governor, who faces a tight race for re-election to a second term in Indiana, has praised Trump in the past but did not back him in the Republican Party’s nominating race.
“Governor Pence has accepted an invitation to spend a little time with Mr. Trump this weekend,” said Marc Lotter, deputy campaign manager of Pence’s re-election effort. “This meeting is very consistent with meetings Mr. Trump is holding with many key party leaders.”
Earlier, MSNBC, citing unnamed sources, said Trump is considering Pence, 57, as a potential running mate. The network, which first reported the upcoming meeting, said it was part of the vetting process.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich are also under consideration to be Trump’s running mate, sources told Reuters.
“Trump is meeting with a number of Republican leaders in the run-up to the convention in Cleveland, and he has a good relationship with Gov. Pence,” Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said in an email.
Republicans will hold their party convention July 18-21 in Cleveland to formally pick their nominee ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.
Trump, 70, a real estate mogul and former television reality star, was scheduled to speak at rally in Colorado on Friday.
He has said he has narrowed down his potential running mates to five or six contenders, according to media reports.
On Thursday, Pence told reporters he had not spoken with Trump since before Indiana’s May 3 primary contest, MSNBC said. The governor had earlier pledged to back former Trump rival Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas and Tea Party favorite.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Emily Stephenson in Washington and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by Susan Heavey and Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)