Consider this a bit of a desperately needed palate-cleanser, as Team Trump tries to get the campaign back on message. Running mate Mike Pence made an appearance at a campaign rally in North Carolina and took questions from the crowd, including an eleven-year-old fan of Donald Trump. He questioned Pence’s commitment to the nominee, and Pence in response turned on the charm:
NBC’s report doesn’t directly quote the question, so here it is:
MATTHEW SCHRICKER: Good morning, Governor Pence, my name is Matthew and I’m eleven years old, and I’ve been watching the news lately. And I’ve been noticing that you’ve been kind of softening up on Mr. Trump’s policies and words. Is this your role — is this going to be your role in the administration?
Pence doesn’t give the obvious answer, which is clearly yes, but instead takes the opportunity to, er, soften up Trump’s words:
“I’ve learned, Matthew, and what you’ll learn when you’re governor of North Carolina — I’m not kidding about that — is sometimes things don’t always come out like you mean,” said Pence. “And Donald Trump and I are absolutely determined to work together. We have different styles. You might have noticed that.” …
“Differences in style, Matthew, should never be confused with differences in conviction,” Pence added. “And I will tell you right now, Donald Trump has the right vision for America, he has the right policies for America and I’m going to fight every day to tell his story all across the United States.”
That’s a fantastic answer, and one that sounds as though Pence has put considerable thought into how to handle the issues his running mate will pose for the next three months — or four years, depending. It once again demonstrates the wisdom of adding Pence to the ticket, bringing more stability and skill to the podium. Even though it might at times highlight the skills Trump lacks, it’s all the more important for Republicans to have that calming influence when they try to appeal beyond Trump’s populist, anti-establishment base.
Imagine what this past week would have looked like had Trump put Pence out front rather than engage in a bizarre battle with the Khans. The campaign has a real advantage with Pence and his charm; we’ll see how much they recognize it.