China / World

Pence tries his best to win over conservatives by fixing Trump gaffes

By Associated Press In Indianapolis (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-05 08:03

Since his selection as Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence has tried to stay focused on winning over conservatives skeptical of the New York billionaire.

His new boss keeps getting in the way.

On several occasions in the past week, the Indiana governor has found himself in direct conflict with Trump, taking a different campaign tact or running damage control after one of the Republican presidential nominee's incendiary remarks. The latest came on Wednesday, when Pence offered an unqualified endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan's re-election bid a day after Trump refused to endorse Ryan.

"There's been some cleanup," said Curt Smith, a longtime Pence friend who runs the socially conservative Indiana Family Institute. "I think you'll see more."

The early days of the general election campaign have been a contortionist act for Pence, who has remained loyal to Trump while trying to maintain his reputation as a principled, down-to-earth Midwesterner with the primary mission of acting as an emissary to the conservative and evangelical wings of the Republican Party.

The first noticeable split between nominee and running mate came during the Democratic convention, when Trump encouraged Russia to find and make public missing emails deleted by Hillary Clinton from the private servers she used while secretary of state.

At roughly the same time, Pence blasted Russia in a statement issued by the campaign that said "the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences" if Russia is "interfering in our elections".

Last weekend, Pence, whose only son is a US Marine, sought to quell the uproar Trump created by lashing out at Captain Humayun Khan's parents, who appeared at the Democratic convention and have criticized Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric. Their son was killed in Iraq.

In a statement, Pence said he and Trump believe Khan is "a hero" and said "his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American". He then shifted gears to praise Trump, who he said will "support our military and their families" and "defeat the enemies of our freedom".

On Tuesday, Pence held a meeting with Arizona Senator John McCain - a day after the former prisoner of war said Trump did not have "unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us", and hours after Trump responded by saying he would not endorse McCain's re-election.

Trump also refused to endorse Ryan, who faces a primary election next week. On Wednesday, Pence had a very different message.

"I'm very confident after Donald Trump is elected president and Paul Ryan is re-elected to Congress ... These two men are going to do great things," Pence said.



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