“A Shotgun Marriage”: Media Note Trump’s Awkwardness With Running Mate Pence

››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

Media figures are calling presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rapport with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, “lacking” and “cringe-inducing,” saying the pair is having an "awkward start," and likening their partnership to “a shotgun marriage.”

Trump Announced Mike Pence As Running Mate

Trump Formally Introduced Mike Pence As Running Mate. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump formally introduced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate at the New York Hilton Midtown July 16. From a July 16 CNN 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, 7/16/16]

Trump And Pence Had A Joint Interview On CBS’ 60 Minutes. Trump and Pence sat down for their first joint interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl in an episode of 60 Minutes that aired July 17. Trump “dominated the interview,” which showed “stark differences, both stylistically and on policy,” between Trump and Pence, according to Politico. From a July 17 Politico article:

The stark differences, both stylistically and on policy, between Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, were on display in their first joint interview, broadcast on 60 Minutes on CBS on Sunday night. And Pence, in particular, demonstrated a willingness to massage past positions so that they better conform with Trump's.

On what was once a major difference — Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States, which Pence condemned in December — Pence appeared to draw a stricter line than Trump, endorsing the plan which Trump has since inched away from.

Asked if he agreed with Trump’s call for “a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States,” Pence responded: “I do,” according to a transcript of the interview.

CBS’s Lesley Stahl then read Pence’s December tweet, which called the proposal “offensive and unconstitutional.”

As happened throughout the interview, Trump, perhaps sensing his running mate’s discomfort, stepped in.

[...]

Trump dominated the interview, speaking far more than his new running mate. Pence was quick to praise Trump, calling him “a good man” three times, and also referring to him as “one of the best negotiators in the world” and said that Trump "embodies American strength." And the magnanimity cut both ways.

Trump praised the performance of the Indiana economy under Pence and forgave Pence’s support for the war in Iraq, which he has repeatedly slammed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for. [Politico, 7/17/16]

Media Call Pair’s Lack Of Compatibility Thus Far “Cringe-Inducing”

Columnist And Former Romney Adviser Dan Senor: Pairing Has Been “Cringe-Inducing.” Former Mitt Romney adviser and columnist Dan Senor called the 60 Minutes interview “cringe-inducing,” adding, “These two couldn't have more polar opposite world views.” From the July 18 edition of CBS This Morning:

CHARLIE ROSE (CO-HOST): So now we have seen the presumptive nominee and his presumptive running mate together on 60 Minutes. What's your --

JOHN DICKERSON: What did I think of that Meet The Parents moment? Mike Pence was very eager to be on the team, and the body language was very interesting to watch. These men don't know each other very well and so when Mike Pence testified to what a good man Donald Trump was, it seemed less evidence of long time spent together in a fishing cabin getting to know each other intimately and more like the talking point that we heard from Paul Manafort, which is the theme will be: "Donald Trump is a good person, his family will attest to that and don't worry about him when he's in the Oval Office. He's got a good heart." And that seemed to be -- although Donald Trump interrupted very quickly to say he has a good head too.

GAYLE KING (CO-HOST): He interrupted several times. Dan, they're using words like "excruciating" and "awkward marriage." What did you think of it -- and you know Mike Pence.

DAN SENOR: Yeah I do. Cringe-inducing. Look, if you look at Mike Pence's career in Congress, you look at what he's stood for in the conservative movement for the last couple decades. Pro-internationalist on foreign policy, pro-free trade, pro -- very progressive on immigration -- very supportive of a culture of civility in our politics. He would speak out on things like Trump's proposal of a Muslim ban. These two couldn't have more polar opposite world views. And so when you see Mike Pence sitting next to Trump -- let's be clear, Pence is signing up to Trump's agenda, not the other way around, and he's signing up to Pence's world view. It's a little awkward to watch.

NORAH O'DONNELL (CO-HOST): I notice that after Trump chose Pence, you tweeted and said this was disorienting because you had talked to Pence in which he talked about his dislike of many things that Trump espouses.

SENOR: Yeah I've been a huge fan of Governor Pence’s over the previous years. In fact I've encouraged him to seek higher office in previous elections. And during the primaries I spoke to him and let's just say he shared deep skepticism of Trump's fit with the Republican Party and it's consistent with what he said publicly actually. He's spoken out when Trump has said some outrageous things.

ROSE: But do they share the same views on social issues?

SENOR: No. Mike Pence has been one of the leaders on issues related to religious freedom and gay rights, anti-gay rights, on life issues. These are not issues -- this is not the area in which Donald Trump has been immersing himself over the years.  In fact, on a number of those issues he has positions right now that are a little at odds with the traditional conservative movement. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 7/18/16]

NBC’s Nicolle Wallace: “Dynamic” Between Trump And Pence “Is Lacking.” NBC political analyst Nicolle Wallace said the 60 Minutes interview was “uncomfortable to watch” and showed “the dynamic between them is lacking.” She noted that it was “sort of Mad Men-era, you know, speaking over your wife.” From the July 18 edition of NBC’s Today:

NICOLLE WALLACE: Well I watched -- the interview last night was sort of Mad Men-era, you know, speaking over your wife. It was uncomfortable to watch in sort of a modern age, and the dynamic between them is lacking because there is no dynamic between them yet. They barely know each other. And I was asked to give a grade last night. We were talking this through about this morning. You got to give it a T for Trump-like. [NBC, Today, 7/18/16]

CNN’s Errol Louis: Trump-Pence Ticket Is “A Shotgun Marriage.” CNN political commentator Errol Louis said the interview was “awkward” because the Trump-Pence pairing is “a bit of a shotgun marriage.” From the July 18 edition of CNN’s New Day:

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): We also saw two contrasting views on lots of different positions last night on 60 Minutes. We saw Donald Trump sit down for the first time with Mike Pence, his running mate, for a big national interview.  And these guys do not agree on everything. Some people on social media described it as somewhat awkward. What did you take away from that interview, Errol?

ERROL LOUIS: Well to the extent that the Republicans want to try and portray both a unified party and something resembling a big tent -- maybe not as big as it used to be, but a place where people of different contrasting views can all be at home and all get behind the ticket -- that's what they were sort of trying to portray. It was awkward because it is awkward. This is a bit of a shotgun marriage. This is unity at the last minute only because they've got to do that because we're closing in on a hundred days until the election, so I think that's really what you saw. The awkwardness is real. And it's not just personal. I think this is a party that's still trying to make up its mind. [CNN, New Day, 7/18/16]

Huff. Post: 60 Minutes Interview Was “Awkward Start To What Could Become A Rocky Marriage.” The Huffington Post’s Marina Fang wrote that the 60 Minutes interview was “an awkward start to what could become a rocky marriage,” adding that it “was similar to Trump and Pence’s first campaign appearance together on Saturday, in which Trump barely mentioned his running mate.” From the July 17 article:

When presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his newly minted running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, sat down for their first joint interview, which aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” their differences in everything from policy positions and demeanor were immediately apparent.

Ahead of the Republican National Convention this week, when the two men ― barring any last-minute commotion ― will formally accept their party’s nominations for president and vice president, Trump and Pence attempted to put on a united front.

But their interview was an awkward start to what could become a rocky marriage, with Trump at one point arguing that he didn’t need Pence.

[...]

The interview was similar to Trump and Pence’s first campaign appearance together on Saturday, in which Trump barely mentioned his running mate. [The Huffington Post, 7/17/16]

New York Magazine: 60 Minutes Interview Built To A “Crescendo Of Awkwardness.” New York magazine’s Margaret Hartmann wrote that the 60 Minutes interview was “even more bizarre than the speech introducing Governor Mike Pence on Saturday, in which Trump mainly talked about himself” and that it built to a “a crescendo of awkwardness.” From the July 18 piece:

Have you ever wondered what Donald Trump's favorite Twitter exclamation — "Sad![”] — would look like if it became sentient, wasn't a huge fan of LGBT rights, and sold its soul for a very slim chance at assuming the presidency? We got to find out when the presumptive Republican nominee sat down with the guy he grudgingly chose as his running mate for a 60 Minutes interview. The result was even more bizarre than the speech introducing Governor Mike Pence on Saturday, in which Trump mainly talked about himself.

The interview starts with Lesley Stahl noting that after months of hammering Hillary Clinton for her vote to authorize the Iraq War, Trump picked a running mate who voted the same way. Apparently, Trump had no answer prepared for this extremely obvious question. "I don't care," he declared, "It's a long time ago. And he voted that way and they were also misled. A lot of information was given to people." So does that mean Clinton's off the hook? "No, she's not," said Trump.

From there, the interview builds to a crescendo of awkwardness, with Trump giving Pence permission not to insult John McCain, declaring that the Constitution "doesn't necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, as a country," and finally informing Stahl, "I think I'm much more humble than you would understand." Through the entire 20-minute interview, Pence is basically only allowed to nod quietly, smile uncomfortably, or call Trump a "good man." Chris Christie might have been able to pull off that level of obsequiousness with a certain gusto, but Pence just looks like a hollow, generic Republican-shaped shell. [New York magazine, 7/18/16]

Fortune: 60 Minutes Interview Shows Trump-Pence Ticket Is An “Awkward Marriage.” Fortune’s Pamela Kruger wrote Trump and Pence “don’t have much in common—politically, philosophically or personally” and that the 60 Minutes interview showed “their awkward marriage.” From the July 17 article:

Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, don’t have much in common—politically, philosophically or personally. And their awkward marriage was on full display in the first interview the two gave together on Sunday on “60 Minutes.”

[...]

In the interview, it was clear that the two have big differences in policy, but Pence was more willing to paper over them. In December, Stahl noted, Pence had tweeted that Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States was “offensive.” In the interview, Pence insisted that he now supports the temporary ban. Stahl didn’t ask why he’d changed his mind. [Fortune, 6/17/16

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