Mike Pence may have won Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, but he didn’t do a particularly good job defending his running mate’s policy positions. Rather than amplifying Trump’s calls for the proliferation of nuclear weapons or support for privatizing social security, for example, Pence simply pretended Trump never said those things.
Two days later, Pence is still at it. During a Thursday morning appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Pence put words into Trump’s mouth and said his running mate doesn’t support a blanket ban on Muslim immigration. Trump himself, however, has never said that.
Asked by Joe Scarborough whether Trump’s proposed ban would apply to all Muslims, Pence said, “Of course not.”
“We’re talking about areas of the world, territories and specifically countries, that have been so compromised by terrorism that we can’t know for certain who those people are,” he added.
During an appearance on CNN minutes later, Pence was grilled by host Chris Cuomo about how it’s possible for him to defend some of Trump’s most controversial positions when Pence has condemned them in the past and Trump hasn’t really disavowed anything.
“Because it’s not Donald Trump’s position now,” Pence said with a chuckle.
Why isn't Mike Pence condemning Trump's past call for a Muslim ban? "Because it's not Donald Trump's position now" https://t.co/9fAIpGXCd4
— New Day (@NewDay) October 6, 2016
You can even use the Trump/Pence website to follow how Trump has twisted and turned on the issue throughout 2016. He strongly supported a complete Muslim ban early this year, but then pivoted to saying it was “just a suggestion” when he became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in the spring.
But then, following the June mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando perpetrated by an American-born Muslim, Trump reverted to calling for a complete ban.
In July, Trump added a wrinkle, saying he supports stopping immigration “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.” But despite his campaign insisting otherwise, Trump himself characterized the tweak as “an expansion,” not a rollback, of his original proposal for a blanket ban.
Then, in August, Trump introduced the idea of requiring aspiring immigrants to pass an ideological test before being allowed entry. Requiring tests of that sort, however, isn’t inconsistent with a blanket ban on Muslims. In fact, Trump said questions about religious beliefs would be part of the screening process.
Perhaps Pence’s comments on Morning Joe refer to what Trump said during an MSNBC town hall in March, when he indicated there might be exceptions to the ban — namely, his rich Muslim friends.
In any event, the Muslim ban is one issue where Pence hasn’t been in step with Trump from day one.
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
Pence and the rest of the campaign can try and put words in Trump’s mouth, but Trump himself has given no indication he’s moved away from wanting to ban Muslim immigration to the country. It’s yet another example of Pence not defending his running mate.