Trump delays announcement of running mate
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump delayed the much awaited announcement of his vice presidential running mate, citing an attack in France that killed at least 80 people.
"In light of the horrible attack in Nice, France, I have postponed tomorrow's news conference concerning my Vice Presidential announcement" Trump posted on Twitter.
US media had earlier reported that the New York billionaire had chosen Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a conservative stalwart, as his running mate.
Trump's pick has been the subject of intense speculation, amid reports of disagreement within his campaign.
Trump told Fox News "I haven't made my final, final decision."
The real estate mogul had been scheduled to formally announce his vice presidential pick on Friday in New York.
His son, Donald Trump Jr had been forced to deny reports of a family feud over who the vice presidential nominee should be.
"There's literally none of the drama I'm reading about. 3 great choices. Decision is my fathers alone to make!" he tweeted.
Pence had emerged as the solid frontrunner ahead of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, as Trump zeroed in on a shortlist of potential running mates.
Republicans gather in Cleveland, Ohio beginning Monday to officially select the White House nominee who will face Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.
US networks CNN and ABC reported without naming their sources that Pence, a 57-year-old Christian evangelical and stalwart of the American right, had already accepted the VP slot.
The Indiana politician offers Trump much needed executive experience from three years in the governor's mansion and oodles of legislative experience after more than a decade in Congress.
He also comes from a state that Democrats won in 2008 and, perhaps most crucially, provides a bridge to socially conservative Republicans who have been put off by Trump's bombast and ideological leanings.
"Governor Pence strengthens the ticket with a solid and unquestionable conservative anchor," Maureen Blum, a convention delegate from Washington who backed Trump rival Marco Rubio, told AFP.
Trump's son Donald Jr described Pence as a "great guy" and a "great American."
"I think he's able to do all things that would be required of him, if that's the way my father decides to go," he told MSNBC.
Unlike Christie and Gingrich, Pence has not been allotted time to speak at the convention.
That fueled speculation he could be the one to fill the vice presidential nominee's prime time slot.
Pence's home state newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, reported that the governor was dropping his bid for reelection in order to become vice president.
But Trump and Pence have not always seen eye-to-eye on policy.
The Indianan once described Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States as "offensive and unconstitutional."
And he has been a consistent supporter of trade deals that Trump says have shortchanged Americans.
- Momentum -
After months of turmoil, scandal and staff reshuffles, Trump's campaign got a shot in the arm Thursday as a poll put him level with Clinton.
A New York Times/CBS News poll showed a dead heat between him and the former secretary of state.
Each candidate landed support from 40 percent of registered voters. The same poll a month ago had Clinton up by six points.
The new numbers underscore the depth of Clinton's troubles over her use of a private server for State Department emails.
Last week the FBI announced it would not pursue criminal charges against Clinton over the issue, but described her behavior as "extremely careless."
Trump still faces the herculean task of uniting the Republican Party at the convention.
Some delegates are pressing for party rules to be changed to allow them to ignore the primary votes and back whichever candidate they want.
To win over skeptics, Trump has tapped wife Melania, daughters Ivanka and Tiffany, and son Donald Trump Jr to speak in Cleveland.
They will undoubtedly try to soften the edges of a candidate who has been accused of racism, misogyny and bigotry.
"The convention's theme," according to the event's CEO Jeff Larson, will be Trump's campaign promise to "Make America Great Again."
It "will focus on the core themes of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump's campaign: national security, immigration, trade and jobs."
If history is any guide, however, Trump's expected boost from the VP pick and the convention may be reversed when Democrats hold their own convention in Philadelphia later in the month.
And the businessman remains in serious trouble in key states that could decide the election outcome.
"Despite the heavy focus on Pence and the eventual Democratic running mate, it's good to remember that the vice presidential choice usually makes very little difference in the end," said Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
© 2016 AFP