PenceTrumpAP500-7-16-16

This election cycle’s Oscar and Felix odd coupling is officially set now: Billionaire Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Trump scheduled a Saturday news conference to introduce his vice presidential running mate. Trump spoke for 42 minutes. Pence got 12.

However, Americans had their first chance to see them together Sunday night on CBS “60 Minutes.” The 70-year-old Trump and 57-year-old Pence looked rather comfortable together. Here are a few initial impressions:

  • Leslie Stahl is an extremely annoying interviewer. She saw herself as prosecutor rather than elicitor of information. She interrupted both men more than would even Charlie Rose, the previous champion preventer of complete-sentence answers.

STAHL: But we did go to war, if you remember. We went to Iraq.

TRUMP: Yeah, you went to Iraq, but that was handled so badly. And that was a war– by the way, that was a war that we shouldn’t have entered because Iraq did not knock down—excuse me (OVERTALK)

STAHL: You’re running mate–(OVERTALK)

TRUMP: Iraq did not–(OVERTALK)

STAHL: voted for it

TRUMP: I don’t care.

STAHL: What do you mean you don’t care that he voted for?

TRUMP: It’s a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people. (OVERTALK)

STAHL: But you’ve harped on this.

TRUMP: But I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning

STAHL: Yeah, but you’ve used that vote– of Hillary’s that was the same as—Governor Pence
(OVERTALK)

STAHL: –as the example of her bad judgment. (OVERTALK)

TRUMP: Many people have, and frankly, I’m one of the few that was right on Iraq.

STAHL: Yeah, but what about the –(OVERTALK)?

TRUMP: He’s entitled to make a mistake every once in a (LAUGH) while.

STAHL: But she’s not? Okay, come on–(OVERTALK)

TRUMP: But she’s not–

STAHL: She’s not?

TRUMP: No. She’s not.

OK, reporters should pin people down, especially politicians. But this segment was billed as the GOP ticket’s first joint appearance, not one more gotcha interrogation of the businessman with Pence as standby witness.

A cynic might suggest that Stahl’s ulterior goal was to prohibit the two Republicans from showing any affinity or synergy. We would never suggest such a thing. Say it flat-out, yes. But never suggest.

  • Pence is an impressively disciplined message-deliverer. Still. Trump is easily distracted in mid-answer. Still. The veteran Pence pushes through interruption after interruption. That will serve him well in the days remaining before Nov. 8 — 113 (God help us).

Trump couldn’t resist boasting of his humility: “I think I am, actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.” Then he was asked about the Turkey coup attempt. His answer was scattered, untethered to the campaign.

As a president, I’m going to be– you know, they’ve been an ally and I stay with our allies – They have been an ally. But that was a quick coup. I was actually surprised to see how well it was handled. And you know who really handled it? The people. So, I mean, we can say what we want, but the people handled it. When they surrounded the army tanks– And without the people, you would’ve never had it. The military would’ve taken over.

Here’s Pence’s immediate response:

I truly do believe that the larger issue here is declining American power in the world. I truly do believe that history teaches that weakness arouses evil and whether it be the horrific attack in France, the inspired attacks here in the United States, the instability in Turkey that led to a coup.

I think that is all a result of a foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that has led from behind and that has sent– an– an inexact, unclear message about American resolve. One of the reasons why I said yes in a heartbeat to run with this man, is because he embodies American strength.

And I know that he will provide that kind of broad-shouldered American strength on the global stage as well.

Obviously, Trump’s stream of consciousness served him well through GOP primaries, earning a record 13 million votes. For November, however, he’ll need five times that many. He must expand his appeal and inspire confidence among doubters that he’s intellectually up to being a commander-in-chief.

Based on this one interview with Pence by his side, in future on foreign affairs Trump might be well served to answer simply, “What he said.”