- By David FrancisDavid Francis is a staff writer for Foreign Policy, where he oversees FP's breaking news blog, The Cable. An award-winning journalist, David has reported from all over Europe, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico, and Afghanistan on terrorism, national security, the geopolitics of energy, global economics, and the European financial crisis. His work has been published in outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times Deutschland, Slate, and SportsIllustrated.com.
Donald Trump rocketed to the Republican presidential nomination in no small part due to his tough stance on Muslim refugees; he said he would temporarily ban them from entering the country. Now, his running mate is singing a completely different tune.
On Thursday, in a series of interviews, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Trump no longer supports the temporary restriction. Pence, who opposed the idea before signing on as Trump’s vice president, said the notion was dead, even though it is still Trump’s stated position which remains on his campaign Web site.
When asked on CNN why he would not condemn Trump’s policy now, Pence said, “Because that’s not Donald Trump’s position now.” Below is a video of the exchange.
Why isn't Mike Pence condemning Trump's past call for a Muslim ban? "Because it's not Donald Trump's position now" https://t.co/9fAIpGXCd4
— New Day (@NewDay) October 6, 2016
Since declaring the ban last year, Trump has been all over the map on what he would actually do if he became president. He’s called for “extreme vetting” of immigrants from countries where terrorists are active. It’s not clear whether that would expand the prohibition or shrink its mandate, and Trump, never one for details, has yet to clarify where he actually stands.
This makes Pence’s comments all the more remarkable. He’s apparently declaring a cornerstone of the campaign, and one of the signature issues for the man at the top of the ticket, to be a dead letter. Perhaps there’s a finger in the wind: recent polls show Republicans are split on the ban, while 57 percent of the broader electorate opposes it.
Pence’s statements Thursday simply continue a trend he started during Tuesday’s debate with Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s choice for vice president. When confronted by Kaine with Trump’s past statements praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, encouraging nuclear proliferation in east Asia, punishing women for seeking abortions, and promising to release his tax returns, Pence simply lied, and repeatedly denied Trump had ever said such things.
He was at it again Thursday. When asked on “Morning Joe” if there would be a ban on all Muslim from entering the country, Pence said “Of course not.”
Photo credit: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Image