Mike Pence laughed off his opponent’s accusation that he and Donald Trump are running an “insult-driven campaign” during Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate.
“[Tim Kaine] said it is an ‘insult-driven campaign,’” Pence said, trying to look surprised. “Did you all just hear that ours is an ‘insult-driven campaign?’”
Pence’s denial was even particularly ridiculous because Trump was himself contradicting it in real time. Even as Pence spoke, Trump was on Twitter retweeting insults about the appearance of Clinton’s running mate:
"@Jnelson52722: @realDonaldTrump @Susiesentinel Kaine looks like an evil crook out of the Batman movies"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016
"@elisac006: @nycmia @realDonaldTrump I agree. Kaine looks like a fool!!"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016
The irony wasn’t lost on Hillary Clinton, who was also apparently on Twitter during the vice presidential debate:
Yes, Trump and Pence are running an insult-driven campaign.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 5, 2016
Donald's literally doing it right now. #VPDebatehttps://t.co/VZeBQ85nyH
Of course, the notion that Trump’s campaign hasn’t centered on insults is hard to take seriously regardless of what Trump said tonight. Trump began his primary by coining memorable putdowns for his Republican rivals — “little” Marco Rubio, “low-energy” Jeb Bush, “lyin’” Ted Cruz. He’s only amped up the practice since then, calling Clinton a “pathological liar” with “zero natural talent” who has “even less stamina.”
ThinkProgress has a brief run-down of Trump’s insult-shtick:
Name-calling, misogyny, fat-shaming, immigrant bashing, Islamophobic racism, mocking of the disabled, and even insulting of veterans and a Gold Star mother have been a constant from day one of Trump’s presidential run.
As Trump insulted his way to the GOP nomination, Vanity Fair dubbed him “America’s insult comic in chief.”
Within the past week, Trump called his opponent “Crooked Hillary,” attempted to win over Sanders supporters by calling him “Crazy Bernie,” and smeared a former Miss Universe as “disgusting” — as well as demonstrating his mocking impression of Clinton stumbling when she was suffering from pneumonia.
All presidential campaigns involve some mud-slinging, and Clinton’s team has certainly gone after Trump’s temperament and personal life. But even if Pence himself largely has a history of avoiding negative attacks in his races, there’s really no doubt that his running mate believes in a different approach altogether.