Indiana Gov. and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence is working hard to downplay his policy differences with his running mate.
Trump and Pence have appeared to diverge on Syria over the past week. During last week’s vice presidential debate, Pence said he supported confronting Russian aggression against civilians in Syria, a policy that many Syrians also support. But at the second presidential debate on Sunday, in response to a question from debate moderator Martha Raddatz, Trump blatantly denied that would be his policy in Syria.
“He and I haven’t spoken and we don’t agree,” Trump said, following up by saying that Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime are killing ISIS (they aren’t).
According to Pence, however, there is no disagreement.
Monday morning, Pence claimed during an appearance on Fox and Friends that his views on Syria were “mischaracterized” and that Raddatz had simply misinterpreted his comments.
“Well, I think Martha Raddatz just mischaracterized the statement that I made in my debate a week ago. I was asked a question about Aleppo,” Pence said. “The question that was asked by [moderator Elaine Quijano] in our debate had to do with the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. And I said Donald Trump and my position is that we need to establish safe zones. We need to secure those safe zones and if necessary to use military force to allow the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in Aleppo, including 100,000 children, to be able to escape.”
“Last night, Martha conflated those into a larger question about Russian provocation, Russian aggression,” Pence said. “And so I didn’t begrudge him at all saying we didn’t discuss it. He disagreed with that.”
But a review of Pence’s comments from last Tuesday’s debate compared to Raddatz’s question to Trump show the moderator was simply repeating his words.
Pence complained Raddatz mischaracterized his views on Syria … but she literally repeated what he said. Pence on left, Raddatz on right. pic.twitter.com/6HzxhI1T7m
— Eric Bradner (@ericbradner) October 10, 2016
More than five years after the start of the civil war in Syria, over 400,000 people have died. Aleppo, the country’s largest city, has been ripped to pieces by Russian and Syrian airstrikes, though the city has not yet fallen to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, despite Trump’s false claim during Sunday’s debate.
— Zouhir_AlShimale (@ZouhirAlShimale) October 10, 2016
The full scale destruction of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian airstrikes has reached such a level that Secretary of State John Kerry recently called for war crime investigations to look into the conduct of Russia and the Assad regime.
“Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals, and medical facilities, and children and women,” Mr. Kerry said in a speech on Friday. “This is a targeted strategy to terrorize civilians.”
While Kerry and his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault are looking into holding Russia and the Assad regime accountable for war crimes, Trump is praising the work they are doing in Syria.
“I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS, Russia is killing ISIS and Iran is killing ISIS,” Trump said.