clock menu more-arrow no yes

Donald Trump's running mate doesn't think politicians should call each other names

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Donald Trump — the Republican presidential nominee known for coining the monikers "Crooked Hillary Clinton," "low-energy Jeb Bush," "Lyin’ Ted Cruz" and "Little Marco Rubio" for his rivals — has picked a running mate who doesn't believe "name-calling has any place in public life."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee, said it was "unfortunate" that President Barack Obama called Trump a demagogue during his Democratic National Convention speech, on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Friday morning.

"I don’t think name-calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that, let alone laced into a sentence like that," Pence said.

Here is the exchange (emphasis added):

HUGH HEWITT: Now, you’ve been with him a lot. President Obama two nights ago called Donald Trump a demagogue after citing fascism, implying that he’s a fascist demagogue...

MIKE PENCE: It’s been a privilege for me and my family to be able to spend time with Donald Trump, and Melania and their kids, and I just have to tell you, you know, the man that I see when the klieg lights are off, you know, is, he is solicitous, he is bright, he is engaging. And I will say he’s extremely considerate and kind....

HUGH HEWITT: So you dismiss the demagogue?

MIKE PENCE But I’ve found him to be, well, you know, I don’t think name-calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that, let alone laced into a sentence like that. But I just don’t see it. I see, I think what I have found in Donald Trump is this is a man of enormous accomplishment, obviously someone who has achieved great things in his life.

Pence and Trump are often at ideological odds

Pence’s comments come in sharp contrast to Trump’s political attack strategy, which consists almost entirely of calling his opponents names. Trump has amassed an entire directory of epithets for his opponents: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is either "Pocahontas" or "goofy," Sen. Bernie Sanders is "crazy," Clinton is "crooked," Bush is "low energy," and the list goes on.

But Pence has a fundamentally different political philosophy: After running an incredibly nasty — and unsuccessful — congressional campaign in 1990, he wrote an op-ed in the Indiana Policy Review called "The Confessions of a Negative Campaigner," in which he condemned negativity in political campaigns.

This contradiction came up during Trump and Pence’s first joint interview on 60 Minutes, during which Pence defended the name-calling by arguing that Trump’s name-calling touches on the issues Americans care about.

"In the essay that I wrote a long time ago, I said campaigns ought to be about something more important than just one candidate's election," Pence said on 60 Minutes. "And, and this campaign and Donald Trump's candidacy has been about the issues the American people care about."

Pence’s essay, however, touches on a more fundamental ideological difference between the two running mates: Pence said winning, as a goal in a political campaign, "comes very much last."

There’s no shroud of mystery over Trump’s stance on "winning."

"We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning," Trump said at a campaign rally last September.