Media figures across the ideological spectrum criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s first joint event with his running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), calling it “the most half-assed big-time political event I've ever seen,” “the worst VP introduction ever,” and “really, really unnerving.”
Trump Holds First Joint Event With Running Mate Mike Pence
Trump Formally Introduces Mike Pence As Running Mate. Trump formally introduced Mike Pence as his running mate at their first joint appearance at the New York Hilton Midtown. From a July 16 CNN.com article:
Donald Trump formally unveiled Mike Pence as his running mate Saturday, candidly saying he hoped the pick would unite the fractured Republican Party, in a typically unconventional rollout event that was more about the man at the top of the ticket than his new sidekick.
The presumptive Republican nominee introduced the Indiana governor at a Manhattan hotel two days before the start of the Republican National Convention. It was a spectacle that underscored the odd couple nature of the GOP ticket, that now unites Trump, a brash, volatile outsider with a sparse ideological track record, with Pence, a strait-laced, disciplined warrior of the social conservative movement. [CNN.com, 7/16/16]
Media Figures Trash Trump’s “Half-Assed” Event
Politico’s Glenn Thrush: Event “Wasn't Unconventional Or Outsidery -- It Was The Most Half-Assed Big-Time Political Event I've Ever Seen.”
MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin: “Does Trump Think He Can Filibuster The Pence Announcement?”
NY Times’ Adam Nagourney: “The Quote Of The Morning: ‘Back to Mike Pence.’"
National Journal’s Ron Fournier: “‘Back To Mike Pence…’ Is A Perfect Transition For Trump To Talk More About Himself.”
National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar: “There's More Sincere Praise Of Bobby Knight Than Mike Pence In This Trump Speech.”
Vox’s Ezra Klein: Event “Is Funny, But It's Also Really, Really Unnerving.”
National Review’s Rich Lowry: “Mike Pence Has To Be Wondering How He Stumbled Into Being The Subject Of The Worst VP Introduction Ever.”
National Review’s Jim Geraghty: “‘Welcome Back To Hour Nine Of Donald Trump's Introduction Of Mike Pence As His Running Mate…’"
CNN’s Amanda Carpenter: “We Are At The Point Where A Presidential Candidate Is Bragging About The Non-Endorsement Of His VP. What Alternate Reality Am I In?”
CNN’s Dan Pfeiffer: Event “Was An Affront To Everything Everyone Has Learned About How To Run A Campaign Ever.”
NBC’s Katy Tur: “Good Portion” Of Trump’s Speech Was “About, Frankly, Himself.” NBC News correspondent Katy Tur said Trump “spent a good portion of” the event “talking about, frankly, himself” and that his speech was mostly about how “this nomination is his, not anybody else's, not his running mate's,” adding “It’s going to be his platform and his ideas alone.” From the July 16 edition of MSNBC Live:
KATY TUR: It was typical in the way that Donald Trump spent a good portion of the time talking about, frankly, himself, relitigating the primaries, talking about all the deals he's made. Also, perpetuating this idea that he was against the Iraq war when he was not. He spent 29 minutes before he got to Governor Mike Pence [(R-IN)]. And he said part of the reason why he chose him -- and he admitted this -- was that he needed party unity, that he's an outsider and that he needed somebody who would smooth over relations in Washington.
I also want to say that Donald Trump spent 29 minutes before he -- talking about himself mostly -- before he went to Governor Pence. If you’re going to compare this to past VP introductions, Mitt Romney spent 8 minutes and 30 seconds before getting to Paul Ryan. The majority of his remarks were focused around Ryan and the job he did in Wisconsin and how he was able to stand up to the establishment, not necessarily stand up to the establishment, but not be somebody divisive in Washington, and how he would bring people together, and how he was fighting for the little guy. And we’re talking about George W. Bush, he introduced Dick Cheney just after seven minutes, again spending much of the time espousing, or talking, praising Dick Cheney's values and Dick Cheney's qualifications for that office. Donald Trump did not necessarily do that. Much of the speech was what we see every day, or most days when we go to these rallies. It was about him, it's about what he has done, the fight that he has gone through to get this nomination. And now he won. And how basically this nomination is his, not anybody else's, not his running mate's. It’s going to be his platform and his ideas alone. [MSNBC, MSNBC Live, 7/16/16]
MSNBC’s Joy Reid: Trump’s VP Announcement “Was Very Awkward.” MSNBC host Joy Reid called Trump’s event “very awkward,” adding that “when Trump sort of handed off the podium to [Pence] but didn't stand there with him, that was a little strange.” The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe added that “Trump’s problem today” to use “Hollywood terms” is that Trump is “struggling to deal with a co-star.” From the July 16 edition of MSNBC Live:
ALEX WITT (HOST): Alright you guys, reaction to all of this. I mean, Katy [Tur] and Hallie [Jackson] have both brought up such great points. The fact that it did not look like the twosome going forward. It was all about Trump, as expected. But then the role of Mike Pence is what?
JOY REID: It was weird. The body language between them was sort of stiff and awkward. And then when Trump sort of handed off the podium to him but didn't stand there with him, that was a little strange, right? You expected at least that he would stand there and give the cameras that two-shot, that sort of unity two-shot and then there was sort of a handshake at the end. And he took a really long time to start talking about Mike Pence. It was a lot about himself, a lot of what we've heard before, as both Katy and Hallie have mentioned, a lot of the stump speech, a lot of, “Hey, I won this, and the party needs to come to me.” I think what Pence is is he's a permission pick. He's for those Republicans who want to vote for Donald Trump because he's a Republican, as they are, and they don't like Hillary Clinton. But there's been something missing, something that hasn't allowed them to publicly support him, to feel sort of publicly good about supporting Donald Trump. I think that the purpose of Mike Pence is for them to be able to say, “Well, I'm voting because that guy is on the ticket, he'll shepherd the Supreme Court picks, he'll be somebody Donald Trump listens to.” I think the flaw of that is, it's not clear that Donald Trump would listen to Mike Pence or anyone else. He has to have him on the ticket, but I can't see them campaigning together. It was very awkward.
WITT: Yeah. What do you think?
ED O'KEEFE: Running mates don't necessarily campaign together all that often. They have this convention week and then they go their separate ways. Because he checks all those boxes, Pence can go and sort of motivate the base, go to fundraisers, be a voice box on talk radio and in television interviews and be the attack dog. I think if you look at the speech he gave, it was a red meat conservative speech. You know, “We are going to do everything we can to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president.” That's what Republicans want to hear right now. He articulated it probably a little more clearly than Trump usually does. I think Trump's problem today, let's use Hollywood terms because he's a Hollywood guy, he's struggling to deal with a co-star and he's going to have to adjust to that. And we're going to have to figure out here, does Pence become a full partner in the campaign strategy, and in the governing strategy, or is he just a guy that gets deployed every so often to take care of certain things? [MSNBC, MSNBC Live, 7/16/16]
This post has been updated with additional examples.