As drama and crisis enveloped the Republican presidential ticket on Saturday, Mike Pence issued a statement making clear that he was offended by Donald Trump’s freshly released 2005 lewd comments about women. “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them,” the Indiana governor said.
But the Republican presidential nominee’s running mate also made clear he is, for now at least, standing by his No. 1, suggesting that Sunday’s prime-time debate against Democrat Hillary Clinton will be a pivotal opportunity for Trump to hold onto support by showing “what is in his heart.”
“I am grateful that [Trump] has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people,” Pence, 57, said in the statement. “We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”
The AP’s source — who “spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share the private discussion” — also added that Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, was “furious.”
Before becoming the First Lady of Indiana, Karen spent her career as an elementary school teacher. The 57-year-old mother-of-three met Pence at the Catholic church they both attended, and has been married to him for over 30 years.
Pence has been silent about the controversy on social media, instead posting photos from his many stops along the campaign trail.
At Trump’s instruction, Pence was to appear for him at a Republican Party Fall Fest in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, on Saturday, with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump was originally slated to attend the event but was un-invited late Friday by Ryan, who said he was “sickened” by Trump’s unearthed comments. Trump then announced, minutes later, that Pence would go to Wisconsin instead. But on Saturday afternoon, highlighting the sudden disarray of the Trump campaign, Pence aides said without elaboration that the vice-presidential candidate decided not to go after all.
On Friday, Trump released a taped video statement where he apologized for his words and attacked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband former president Bill Clinton for their views on women.
“I never said I’m a perfect person nor pretended to be someone that I’m not,” he began in the statement. “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize.”
“I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people,” he continued. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”
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Responding to Virginia Sen. and Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine as he recited several of Trump’s now-infamous lines, Pence doubled down on the attacks against Clinton.
“I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all of the things that you’ve said he said in the way you said he said them,” Pence charged Kaine, “he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a ‘basket of deplorables.’ “