Pence’s big night

Our view: The In­di­ana gov­er­nor owes Tim Kaine thanks for in­form­ing him of all the crazy stuff Don­ald Trump has said; ap­par­ently he had no idea

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

Af­ter watching Tues­day night’s vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate, we couldn’t help but feel some sym­pa­thy for Mike Pence. While we dis­agree with the In­di­ana gov­er­nor on a va­ri­ety of is­sues (quite pro­foundly in some cases), he demon­strated that he is clearly a se­ri­ous, ex­pe­ri­enced public of­fi­cial with a broad range of knowl­edge on public pol­icy, do­mes­tic and for­eign. It was ob­vi­ous that he had taken the time to con­sider what ques­tions might be raised and to pre­pare clear an­swers to them. In fact, he must have been so busy study­ing ev­ery­thing from abor­tion to the Syr­ian civil war that he didn’t have time to read up on the guy whose ticket he’s run­ning on.

Sen. Tim Kaine, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for vice pres­i­dent, had not failed to no­tice the pres­ence of Don­ald Trump on the cam­paign trail and was well versed in all of the crazy things he has said and done dur­ing the last year. We can only imag­ine what was go­ing through Mr. Pence’s mind as Mr. Kaine brought up one dan­ger­ous, of­fen­sive or ill-con­sid­ered Trump idea af­ter an­other — surely that can’t be true, right? We hate to break it to you, Gov­er­nor Pence, but it is. When Sen­a­tor Kaine men­tioned the Trump plan to cre­ate a “de­por­ta­tion force” to get rid of the na­tion’s un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants en masse, Gov­er­nor Pence said, “That’s non­sense.” It is non­sense; there’s no way some­thing like that would be pos­si­ble, much­less palat­able to the Amer­i­can peo­ple. But it is, nonethe­less, Trump pol­icy. He’s been talk­ing about it at least since a pri­mary de­bate in 2015 and re­it­er­ated the idea dur­ing an im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy speech in Au­gust.

We can un­der­stand how Mr. Pence would as­sume that call­ing NATOob­so­lete and get­ting rid of the al­liance couldn’t pos­si­bly be Mr. Trump’s plan. But he did call it that, in an in­ter­view on ABC’s “This Week” in March. And while he didn’t ex­plic­itly ad­vo­cate for end­ing the al­liance, he did sug­gest in an in­ter­view with the New York Times that he wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily honor its cen­tral tenet — that an at­tack on one mem­ber be treated as an at­tack on all. The gov­er­nor was sim­i­larly non­plussed by Mr. Kaine’s ref­er­ences to Mr. Trump’s re­peated praise of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin or the no­tion that we would ban Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the United States.

Mr. Pence must have thought Mr. Kaine was de­ranged when he sug­gested that a Repub­li­can can­di­date for pres­i­dent en­dorsed nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion. “Well, he never said that, sen­a­tor,” Mr. Pence replied. Sorry to say it, gov­er­nor, but he did. Re­peat­edly. He has specif­i­cally floated the idea of South Korea and Ja­pan hav­ing nu­clear weapons as a de­ter­rent to North Korea. As for Saudi Ara­bia, he didn’t ob­ject to the idea in an in­ter­view with CNN’s An­der­son Cooper, say­ing such a devel­op­ment was “in­evitable.”

Even as staunchly anti-abor­tion as Gov­er­nor Pence is (he ac­tu­ally signed a bill re­quir­ing burial or cre­ma­tion for fe­tal tis­sue, whether in the case of an abor­tion or mis­car­riage), he couldn’t In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence spent Tues­day’s vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate deny­ing that Don­ald Trump had said var­i­ous things, but there’s am­ple ev­i­dence to the con­trary. con­ceive of some­one ad­vo­cat­ing that a woman be sub­ject to crim­i­nal sanc­tions for get­ting an abor­tion. “Don­ald Trump and I would never sup­port leg­is­la­tion that pun­ished wom­en­whomade the heart­break­ing choice to end a preg­nancy,” Mr. Pence said. But ac­tu­ally, Mr. Trump did at one say dur­ing a town hall mod­er­ated by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “there has to be some form of pun­ish­ment” for women who have abor­tions, though he quickly back­tracked.

The one Trump­ism that Mr. Pence ap­par­ently caught wind of was the can­di­date’s un­kind words about Mex­i­can im­mi­grants. WhenMr. Kaine re­ferred to re­marks from a 2015 speech in which Mr. Trump said, “When Mex­ico sends its peo­ple, they’re not send­ing their best. ... They’re bring­ing drugs. They’re bring­ing crime. They’re rapists,” Mr. Pence was swift to of­fer a cor­rec­tion: “He also said and many of them are good peo­ple. You keep leav­ing that out of your quote.” Ac­tu­ally, the end of the quote is, “And some, I as­sume, are good peo­ple.” Big dif­fer­ence.

Surely, at some point, Mr. Pence started to wish Mr. Kaine had pointed all this out to him be­fore he agreed to be on Mr. Trump’s ticket. Even so, he clearly owes the sen­a­tor a debt of thanks. Not only did Mr. Kaine pro­vide him with some valu­able in­sights into his prospec­tive boss, but he was so busy do­ing it that he failed to point out any of the crazy stuff Mr. Pence has done or said over the years — like when he wrote in 2000 that “smok­ing doesn’t kill,” when he com­pared the Supreme Court rul­ing up­hold­ing Oba­macare to the Sept. 11 at­tacks, or when he sparked a mas­sive back­lash from In­di­ana busi­nesses for sign­ing a law al­low­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against gays. Maybe Mr. Pence would feel right at home in a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion af­ter all.

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IM­AGES

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