Pence, Gingrich make the final cut in Trump’s VP search, sources say

Donald Trump on Thursday held his first rally as the Republican Party's presumptive nominee and jokingly lamented the end of the bitter primary season.

Donald Trump on Thursday held his first rally as the Republican Party's presumptive nominee and jokingly lamented the end of the bitter primary season.

INDIANAPOLIS (CNN) — As anticipation builds for Donald Trump to name his vice presidential pick, two hopefuls — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — appear to be the front-runners, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.

Trump will likely make the announcement on Friday, the source said.

Pence spent part of his day lavishing praise on the presumptive GOP nominee, comparing him to Ronald Reagan and using the phrase “make America great again” Tuesday afternoon when he spoke with reporters after an event in Indianapolis.

“I think he is someone who has connected with everyday Americans like no one since Ronald Reagan,” Pence said. “I think he has spoken into the frustration and the longings of the American people as no one since the 40th president, and I think you’re going to continue to see him do that.”

Pence faces an important audition Tuesday night, the source familiar with the process said, appearing alongside Trump at a fundraiser in downtown Indianapolis and then a public rally in nearby Westfield.

“It feels like Pence. But (Trump) likely wants to see the reaction tonight,” a separate source familiar with the selection process told CNN, adding that when it comes to timing: “It would not be tonight unless Trump is like the guy with the engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket who takes the opportunity while the jumbotron is on at the arena.”

Pence and Trump had a private, one-on-one conversation at the fundraiser, according to a source who was there said.

The Indiana governor and former congressman has already passed one important hurdle, the source said: “(The) Pence vet was completely clean and that mattered. No one needs an extra hassle.”

But Pence isn’t the only VP prospect making headlines: Fox News said Tuesday it is suspending Gingrich’s contract since the former speaker is also on Trump’s vice presidential short list. Some of Gingrich’s allies have been “heavily lobbying” the campaign, one of the source’s told CNN.

“Clearly Gov. Pence is deeply in the running, (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) is. I’ve been part of the process. We’ll see what happens over the next two to three days. It’s a little like ‘Apprentice’ — you see in a few days who the last one standing is,” Gingrich said.

Pence and his wife Karen met with Donald and Melania Trump at Trump’s golf course in New Jersey early this month — a meeting Pence brought up Tuesday.

“I will tell you that we’ve been honored to spend some time with Mr. and Mrs. Trump,” he said. “We were very moved by how gracious and kind they were to our family. And I think he is going to be a great president.”

Former rival turned supporter Ben Carson told CNN’s Erin Burnett Trump won’t be making a rash decision — but it also could bring the unexpected.

“Well, I think that one of the things that you’ve seen throughout this whole process is that Donald Trump is unpredictable. He’s going to be careful, he’s going to be very, very deliberate,” he said on Tuesday night.