INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Pence expressed dismay Saturday over Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women, saying in a statement that he was “offended” but wanted to give his embattled running mate a chance to “show what is in his heart” at the second presidential debate.
“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the eleven-year-old video released yesterday," Pence said in a written statement. "I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people. We pray for his family and look forward to the opportunity he has to show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation tomorrow night.”
Pence earlier cancelled an appearance in Wisconsin amid the fallout from Friday's video.
As of Saturday morning, Pence was still scheduled to attend a gathering of the state's party leaders, one that House Speaker Paul Ryan had disinvited Trump to on Friday after the video was made public. Ryan said the material on the tape “sickened” him.
On Friday, a little more than an hour after the release of the tape, Pence appeared at a campaign rally in Rossford, Ohio. He did not directly mention the remarks. But he did go on with his usual stump speech which included these lines: “Invariably, they’ll say, this time we got him, right?” Pence told the gathering of supporters inside a gymnasium. “This time we found that there’s another tweet that's come out or something. This time we got another thing, another issue that’s come forward. Then they turn on the next television the next morning, and Donald Trump is still standing stronger than ever before.”
Pence suggested that if Trump is elected to the presidency, “we’ll have a president who respects all of the American people.”
He continued in his praise of the mogul, pitching the crowd that said this election is “about maintaining the highest level of integrity in the highest office of the land.”
Pence called Trump a “winner” and a man “who never backs down.”
He went onto say this race is about “respecting our constitutional principles and our highest ideals."
And despite the torrent of accounts from women reporting sexual advances or indecency by the nominee over the decades, Pence, again, on Friday tried to connect the story of his upbringing to Trump’s.
“Other than a whole lot of zeros, Donald Trump and I have a lot in common,” Pence recounted.
After the event, a reporter asked Pence at the rope line questions about the tape and, upon being ignored, directly asked: “Governor, how can you ignore this question?”
Evan McMullin, an independent candidate angling for particularly conservative voters disenchanted with Trump, tweeted on Saturday that Pence is “Trump’s number one enabler.”
On MSNBC on Friday, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said he would like to see Pence replace Trump at the top of the GOP ticket because of his “high moral fiber.”
In the three months since joining Trump on the presidential ticket, Pence, a devout evangelical Christian, has pushed aside Trump’s remarks as often being made in the “heat of the moment” and his “style” a result of his New York roots.
And on the Today Show on Thursday, he passed off questions about Trump’s “insults” made on the campaign trail as “mischaracterizations” and statements taken “out of context.”