Trump Team Debate Takeaway: Pence Is Proof That Trump Has Good Judgment

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FARMVILLE, VA – Donald Trump has called women pigs, branded Mexican immigrants rapists and attacked the “Mexican” heritage of a federal judge. Less than a week ago, he was up in the wee hours of the morning tweeting about a former Miss Universe’s non-existent sex tape, but Trump’s team has maintained that the Republican presidential candidate has good judgement.

You want proof?

After Tuesday’s debate, they’ll tell you to look no further than his VP pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“It is about proving once again the strong judgment that Donald Trump has. He picked the perfect running mate in Governor Pence. Somebody who is determined, somebody who is measured, somebody who is experienced,” said Trump surrogate and supporter Boris Epshteyn to reporters after the debate.

Pence managed to have a measured debate performance Tuesday night a far cry from the more reactionary show Trump gave just a week ago. While Pence failed to defend the top of the ticket throughout the debate and at some points he even seemed to depart from Trump’s positions, he remained calm and collected, giving the Trump campaign an opportunity to use Pence as evidence that Trump actually is a good decision-maker.

When asked if there was anything that Trump could learn from Trump’s debate performance, former Sen. Scott Brown put it succinctly “everything.”

Trump’s team wanted to cast Tuesday night as a referendum on each presidential candidate’s ability to hire a team.

“Hillary Clinton for whatever reason put Sen. Tim Kaine on her ticket. … You saw tonight why Donald Trump’s first exercise in judgment and leadership was to put Mike Pence on his ticket,” said Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

The sentiment was widespread among members of the Trump team, as if Pence had finally give them definitive proof (just a little over 30 days from the election) that Trump was a solid decider.

“I think [Trump] was just reminded of what a good decision he made in picking Mike Pence. They are a very strong ticket and they compliment each other and I think we got to see why, again, he was a solid decision,” said Sarah Huckabee.

The talking point that has been repeated throughout the election cycle is that while Donald Trump may be short on policy aptitude, conservative principles or political experience, he has always managed to make up for deficiencies by having a good team

“Donald Trump has made a lifetime of surrounding himself with really good people and we got to see that tonight again on the big stage,” said Sarah Huckabee.

The role of cleaning crew is nothing new for Pence. He’s done it for Trump at several turns on this campaign. After Trump went to Capitol Hill and mocked senators who had expressed disagreement with him, it was Pence– a former congressman– who arrived a little more than a month later to ease tensions. On the campaign trail, Pence often discusses his family’s own immigrant story while Trump continues to discuss horrific instances of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

When asked if he wished Pence had just been the nominee instead of Trump, American Conservative Union Chair Matt Schlapp smiled.

“I love Mike Pence,” Schlapp said. “We’ve had Mike Pence speak at CPAC. He’s a conservative hero. I was very pleased he was picked as vice president, but I am very pleased that Donald Trump is the presidential nominee for a couple of reasons.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.

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