WASHINGTON - In his first interview as Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence late Friday compared the Republican presidential hopeful to conservative icon Ronald Reagan. Pence, interviewed on Fox News Channel's "Hannity" show, emphasized that the real estate mogul and reality TV star was "the people's choice". The Republican Party "had a competitive primary with him, enormous number of talented men and women," Pence said.

"Donald Trump again and again emerged because I think very much like the 40th president that you and I so admire, Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump understands the anxiety and the aspiration of the American people like no leader since Reagan." Trump has no direct political experience. In contrast Reagan, a Hollywood actor, was governor of California before he was elected president. The comparison with the late Reagan is a clear appeal to make Trump more palatable to conservatives alienated by Trump's rhetoric and populist message.

The four-day Republican Party convention that will nominate Trump as their presidential candidate, which starts Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, will feature no former presidents, few party luminaries and only a smattering of elected officials. John McCain and Mitt Romney, the last two Republican presidential candidates, will also stay away.