Gingrich insisted that "zero" percent of him watched Pence alongside Trump on "60 Minutes" Sunday night and thought, "I should be the one sitting there." And if you go with the former House speaker's "pirate" selection theory, these two interviews — Gingrich on "Morning Joe" and Pence and Trump on "60 Minutes" — explain perfectly why the governor got the nod.
On "60 Minutes," CBS's Lesley Stahl asked what the mild-mannered Pence thinks of Trump's coarse campaign style. Trump cut in to explain that "we're different people."
"I'll give you an example," said the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. "Hillary Clinton is a liar. Hillary Clinton — that was just proven last week. ... Hillary Clinton is a crook. I call her Crooked Hillary. She's Crooked Hillary. He won't — I didn't ask him to do it, but I don't think he should do it because it's different for him. He's not that kind of a person."
Pence added: "It's probably obvious to people that our styles are different. But I promise you, our vision is exactly the same."
Answering for Trump's often-abrasive rhetoric is in the running mate's job description. But Pence probably will not have to answer for his own rhetoric, because he probably won't say anything as inflammatory as the man at the top of the ticket. He's one less headache for a campaign in a perpetual state of crisis management.
By contrast, Gingrich's appearance on "Morning Joe" began with a confrontation.
"Why are you mad at me?" he asked co-host Mika Brzezinski, almost as soon as he arrived on the set in Cleveland, where the Republican National Convention kicked off Monday.
"Well, I thought your statements about screening people were really rough," Brzezinski replied. "That's why I'm mad at you. ... They were tough, and they were unrealistic, and I think they were divisive."
Brzezinski was referring, of course, to Gingrich's proposal on Thursday that "we should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported." The remark was widely criticized in the media, as journalists noted that the idea clearly violates constitutional principles. Brzezinski said on the air Friday that "what frightens me about his comments is that I think he knows better."
On CNN the same day, Chris Cuomo asked Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whether Gingrich's comment would knock him out of vice-presidential consideration. Manafort insisted he that didn't know what Gingrich had said — or, at least, the context of what he said — and declined to answer.
Later on Friday, Gingrich himself acknowledged during a Facebook Live session that "deportation is impossible" for Muslims who are U.S. citizens. "It's not appropriate under the Constitution," he said.
What's clear is that adding Gingrich to the ticket could have doubled Trump's trouble. As it is, interviews with Trump and his staffers and supporters often involve explaining the candidate's latest, controversial statement. The similarly unfiltered Gingrich may have made it almost impossible to cover anything else.
In Pence, Trump has a virtual guarantee that the media's only questions about polarizing commentary will be about his own — not his running mate's, too.