In an attempt to dismiss an apparent policy disagreement between the two men at the top of the Republican ticket, vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence accused ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, the co-moderator of last night’s presidential debate, of mischaracterizing his position on solving the crisis in Syria in a question to Donald Trump.
In an interview on MSNBC this morning, Pence said Raddatz got her question “wrong” and challenged viewers to analyze the transcripts. ABC News has subsequently reviewed the transcripts in question.
In her question to Trump last night, Raddatz sought reaction to a comment by Pence at last Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate, in which he said the United States should be prepared to strike military targets belonging to the Syrian regime. Trump reacted by saying he and Pence hadn’t spoken and that he disagreed, thus exposing an apparent discrepancy between the possible next commander-in-chief and his vice president.
But Pence blamed Trump’s reaction on the question, rather than a true difference of opinion. “Martha Raddatz mischaracterized what I said in the vice presidential debate,” Pence said on MSNBC this morning. “[Trump] was right to say we hadn’t talked about it, and the way she characterized it, we would disagree on it. That’s not my position, not his position, and as I said, people can go back and look at the transcripts,” he said.
Here’s part of what Pence said last Tuesday in response to a question about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and the responsibility of the United States to defend that city and its civilians from the cruel military tactics used by Russia and the Syrian regime:
Pence: I just have to tell you that the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis that is taking place in Aleppo.
Here is what Martha Raddatz asked Trump yesterday and Trump’s response:
Raddatz: Mr. Trump, let me repeat the question. If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, and I want to remind you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in airstrikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.
Trump: OK. He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree.
Raddatz: You disagree with your running mate?
Trump: I disagree. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran who she made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a powerful nation and a rich nation, very quickly, very, very quickly. I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria, they had a chance, and that was the line.
The transcripts show that Raddatz in large part used Pence’s own words in the question, including two exact quotes from Pence — that “provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength,” and “the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”