Pence forging ahead in awkward relationship with Trump

Thomas Beaumont and Brian Slodysko
Associated Press

Washington — Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence emerged Monday after a weekend out of the public eye reaffirming his relationship — awkward as it seemed — with Donald Trump.

After canceling a weekend campaign appearance and leaving Trump alone to deal with a video of sexually predatory remarks, Pence trumpeted the GOP nominee’s debate performance and hit the road for swing-state North Carolina.

He also rejected the idea he had weighed quitting the ticket.

“It’s absolutely false to suggest that at any point in time we considered dropping off this ticket,” Pence said during an interview on Fox News Chanel, adding, “It’s the greatest honor of my life.”

In that way, Pence was answering any doubts he would remain with Trump, after a 48-hour stretch in which scores of Republican candidates and leaders abandoned the presidential nominee over the 2005 remarks.

Pence and Trump spoke Sunday evening after the GOP nominee faced Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in their second debate, where Trump apologized but also dismissed the vivid and degrading sexual comments as “locker room talk” and blasted former President Bill Clinton as having been “far worse.”

After the publication of the video and story about the comments by The Washington Post, Pence issued a statement saying he was “offended by them” and did “not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”

Pence, who is married and has two daughters, also canceled what was to be a joint appearance with Trump Saturday in Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

An aide said Pence had spoken with Trump after Sunday’s debate. Pence also posted a Tweet Sunday evening praising Trump’s debate performance.

“Donald Trump stepped up and won a debate last night that seemed against all odds,” Pence also told Fox. “He stepped up, he showed humility and showed strength.”

Pence was en route to North Carolina for public events in Charlotte and Fletcher, and had stops in Iowa and Virginia planned for later in week.