NBC hosts Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer confronted Indiana Gov. Mike Pence repeatedly Thursday over his deflection of questions about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s most inflammatory statements.
During an appearance on the “Today” show Thursday, Guthrie played Pence a Hillary Clinton campaign ad that contrasted clips of Pence’s answers during the vice presidential debate with his and Trump’s statements on the campaign trail.
“I guess the question is — even though it worked in the moment, was it the wrong approach to deny statements that you know are on video and on audio and are going to come back and bite you the next day?” Guthrie asked.
Pence brushed off Guthrie’s question, describing Sen. Tim Kaine’s statements during Tuesday’s debate as “mischaracterizations” of the governor’s past statements.
“The way Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton continue to take Donald Trump’s statements out of context was something I wasn’t going to tolerate during the debate,” Pence said of the Democratic ticket.
“But those are direct quotes in context,” Guthrie responded.
Guthrie and Pence also debated semantics, as Pence argued his claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “stronger” leader than President Barack Obama was not an argument that Putin was a superior leader to Obama.
Lauer then asked Pence to react to assertions that the governor could not defend some of the real-estate magnate’s most controversial statements.
“Can you say to us today that you cannot defend some of the things that Donald Trump has said about women and Mexican immigrants, and John McCain, and a judge of Mexican heritage?” Lauer said.
The governor added that it was an honour to “stand shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump” — then pivoted to attacking Kaine.
“After Tim Kaine ran through a rapid, obviously memorized litany of personal insults, then he said that Donald Trump and I were running an insult-drive campaign. It really is remarkable,” Pence said.
“With all due respect, governor, you just did it again,” Lauer said.
Pence did not acknowledge Lauer’s interjection, appearing intent on casting Kaine and Clinton as out of touch.
When the governor argued that Kaine refused to apologise for Clinton’s characterization of half of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” Guthrie interjected.
“He actually did. He said she apologised,” Guthrie said.
Pence did not acknowledge Guthrie’s correction either.
Though some surrogates and prominent left-leaning figures have acknowledged that the Indiana governor outperformed Kaine in Tuesday’s debate, the Clinton campaign has attempted to use Pence’s deflections during the debate to hammer the Trump campaign online.
The campaign and aligned super PACs immediately cut ads criticising Pence for dismissing the real-estate mogul’s controversial statements, including his positive statements about Putin and his suggestion that nuclear proliferation may be a positive international-relations development.
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