According to the Associated Press, GOP vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence’s team is thinking of distancing Pence from Trump after Trump’s incendiary remarks concerning Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star Muslim parents of an army captain killed in Iraq.
After Pence tried to defend Trump by issuing a statement on Sunday night in which he said that he and Trump believe Capt. Khan was a hero and his family "should be cherished by every American," AP reported, “Pence's late Sunday statement came after an afternoon of debate among his aides as to whether he should find a way to subtly distance himself from Trump's comments, according to a person familiar with the internal campaign conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly.”
Pence is caught between a rock and a hard place; he must align himself with Trump as he is his running mate, but the consistent inflammatory and unnecessary remarks by Trump leave him desperate that he will be permanently tainted by his association with Trump.
The remarks regarding the Khans were not the first time Pence has had to find space between him and Trump; last week, Pence stated Russia would face "serious consequences" for meddling in U.S. elections, saying, "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences.” But Pence’s remarks were virtually concomitant with Trump’s remarks in which he seemed to embrace Russia publishing emails that Hillary Clinton deleted from the private servers she used while secretary of state, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
It’s ironic that Pence has to consistently bail Trump out, since Trump tried to dump Pence after he had announced he would choose him as a running mate:
Pence has been a dutiful soldier up until now; when he was asked if Trump went too far when he attacked the character of senator John McCain, Pence was silent, finally offering a weak statement of general principle:
I promise you that when the circumstances arise where I have a difference on policy or on presentation, I have – I can tell you in my heart, I know – I would have no hesitation, were I privileged to be vice-president, to walk into the president’s office, close the door, and share my heart. And I also know this good man would listen, and has the leadership qualities to draw from the people around him.
Pence may try to distance himself from Trump, but their relationship is like a rubber band; there is only so far he can go before the GOP forces him to zing back to Trump’s side as his running mate.