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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

By Ginger Gibson and Alana Wise

FARMVILLE, Va. (Reuters) – Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “small and bullying leader” on Tuesday and condemned his actions in Syria, taking a harder line than Donald Trump at a contentious debate with Democratic rival Tim Kaine.

Pence’s denunciation of Putin for his interference in the Syrian civil war and support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a departure from the frequent praise of Putin by Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, who has called him a better leader than U.S. President Barack Obama and said he could work with him.

“The small and bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States,” Pence said. “The greatest nation on earth just withdraws from talks about a ceasefire, while Vladimir Putin puts a missile defense system in Syria.”

The encounter between Pence and Kaine, who is number two to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, was the only such debate between the vice presidential contenders before the Nov. 8 election, and the two spent most of their time attacking each other’s running mates.

For more than 90 minutes at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, neither Pence nor Kaine appeared to deliver a knockout punch. Pence sought to project an image as a reassuring presence to the bombastic Trump, while Kaine tried to frighten voters away from Trump and make Clinton seem more trustworthy.

A CNN/ORC snap poll declared Pence the winner with 48 percent support, compared with Kaine’s 42 percent.

It set the table for a second presidential debate looming on Sunday in St. Louis between Clinton and Trump, who needs to rebound from a rocky performance from his first debate, one that gave Clinton a boost in national opinion polls with Election Day only five weeks away.

Pence’s comments raised eyebrows among establishment Republicans as to whether the governor of Indiana was breaking ranks with Trump on Russia. Trump himself earlier in the day condemned Russian bombing in Syria after the United States withdrew from ceasefire talks with Russia.

Conservatives who do not support Trump liked Pence’s view.

“Pence’s foreign policy is fine. Too bad it isn’t Trump’s,” tweeted Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine.

Pence said “the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength” and that if Russia chooses to continue to be involved in “barbaric” attacks on civilians, “the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.”

Pence’s blunt comments on Russia, more in line with thinking by traditional Republicans, came in response to Kaine’s charge that Trump was too cozy with the Russian leader.

Kaine, a U.S. senator from Virginia, said Clinton would be tough in dealing with Putin.

“Donald Trump, again and again, has praised Vladimir Putin. And it’s clear that he has business dealings with Russian oligarchs who are very connected to Putin,” Kaine said.

Democrats were quick to point out the discrepancy between Trump and his running mate on Russia.

“All of a sudden we hear tough talk about Vladimir Putin. It’s the exact opposite of what Donald Trump has been saying,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.

Pence’s toughened position on Russia gave him an opening to declare that Clinton had been outfoxed when she attempted a U.S. reset in relations with Russia when she was Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Bickering between Kaine and Pence was so intense that they frequently talked over each other. Kaine was seen by television commentators as being overprepared and overeager as he circled back to Trump’s refusal to release his tax records at almost every opportunity.

Kaine called the Republican presidential nominee a danger to U.S. national security and someone who denigrates women and minorities and appears to pay little in federal taxes.

Kaine drew Pence’s ire by hearkening back to a remark from former Republican President Ronald Reagan that some fool or maniac with a nuclear weapon could trigger a catastrophic event.

“And I think that’s who Governor Pence’s running mate is,” Kaine said.

Pence shot back: “Senator, senator, that was even beneath you and Hillary Clinton and that’s pretty low.”

Kaine repeatedly sought to persuade Pence to defend Trump’s positions, but Pence steadfastly refused to take the bait.

One of Kaine’s most aggressive lines of attack was over Trump’s refusal to release his tax records, a decision that breaks with the practice of all other presidential nominees in modern history.

The New York Times reported last weekend that Trump had taken a $916 million tax loss in 1995 and may have avoided paying federal taxes for 18 years because of it.

“Governor Pence had to give Donald Trump his tax returns to show he is qualified to be vice president. Donald Trump has to give his tax returns to show he is qualified to be president,” Kaine said.

Pence defended Trump, saying the New York real estate developer had created thousands of jobs and had used U.S. tax laws as they were designed to be used.

“Why won’t he release his taxes?” Kaine fired back.

(Writing by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Emily Stephenson in Colorado and Chris Kahn in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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59 responses to “Debate: Pence Pushes Harder Line On Russia Than Putin’s Pal Trump”

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  2. FireBaron says:

    Now, how much says we will see Pence tone back on his anti-Putin rhetoric after this. After all, if the KGB and their Fearless Leader, Vladimir Vladimirovich, Tsar of All Russias, wants his puppet, Teflon Donnie, elected, Donnie’s tool faking his legitimacy will need to be reined in.

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  3. harleyblueswoman says:

    I only watched half of it….it was all I could stand….like watching two little kids argue about who has the best Daddy or Mommy….no individual notions or ideas of their own….really a waste of time….

  4. charleo1 says:

    To be fair, Putin has yet to compliment Pence for his talent, and good looks. What the Right fails to acknowledge is Putin’s behavior might be a little less aggressive if Bush and President Dick Cheney hadn’t spend 4 trillion dollars grinding our military down to a nub in the sands of Iraq. While souring the appetite of the majority of the American public on any intervention of any kind anywhere, not involving a direct attack on the Homeland. Start by acknowledging that we cannot fight, shoot, and bomb our way out of our problems around the World. Neither in the Mid-East, or in the Ukraine. Where Putin is determined to stop the spread of NATO, and its accompanying missile sites, placed less than five ballistic minutes from Moscow. What we can do is elect a bunch of nut jobs that will let their battleship mouths overload their ignorant rowboat rear ends, and we’ll wind up with another 500,000 troops headed somewheres overseas in another 4 trillion dollar boondoggle we can all argue about. Or we can all wake up dead one fine morning. That we can do.

    • itsfun says:

      Obama has had us in a war someplace for every one of his 8 years, and you still blame Bush. If Obama is so great, why hasn’t he gotten us out of wars. He said he would, but that didn’t happen. Obama is the one that needs to acknowledge we cannot fight, shoot and bomb our way out of our problems. He is one that has kept us in war. Trump would win the wars of just get out. My bet is he would win, and not play for a tie while our young people are getting killed and our natural resources are being wasted. We can elect Hillary and get up to find English is our second language, we have no guns to protect our families and the terrorists have been given New York. We will lose religious freedoms, have the government in our bedrooms and bathrooms. Animal Farm will become a reality in the U.S.

      • charleo1 says:

        Please! You could care less about whether Bush’s war has created the geo political realities this President has had to deal with. You don’t even care if the government is in bedrooms, or abridging religious freedom. As long as it’s not your bedroom, or your religious freedom. Your concern is all about your English becoming a second language. The guns you think make you safe. The terrorist under your bed. The rest is just window dressing.

        • itsfun says:

          You have no idea what I do or don’t care about. Obama has had us in a war for 8 straight years, yet you blame Bush. Why isn’t Obama smart enough to get us out of war in 8 years. Apparently you are okay with the government in your bedroom and bathroom. If you want your wife to be forced to allow some 250 lb man take a dump beside her, its okay with me, probably not okay with your wife though. You don’t care about religious freedoms as long as you get your way. Yes my gun protects me and my family from people breaking into my home to hurt or rob, or kill my family. Keep encouraging terrorists by not trying to prevent more killings, and you may find them under your bed someday.

          • charleo1 says:

            My sense is if you truly cared about these wars, you would take the time to find out what is going on. For example, why is it that the changes set into motion by the Iraq invasion cannot be put back into some stability without the limited re-deployment of troops in the region? Why not just send back, 100,000? Is there really the political support in Congress for that? So why were the troops withdrawn? Was it merely Obama’s politics? What was the status of forces agreement? Why wasn’t the Obama Adm. able to re-negotiate it with the Maliki Gov.? What are the attitudes about the U.S. today, in the Iraqi Parliament? There you will find the answer to the former question. Why couldn’t we have just left a residual force anyway without the Iraqi’s permission? What were the parameters of the original UN mandate that legalized the invasion in the first place? Why is the time limitations imposed by the UN agreement on the invasion, obtained by the Bush Adm. important when we talk about the necessity of obtaining a status of force agreement from the gov. of Iraq by a 2011, deadline?

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Again, your ability to distort historical fact is breathtaking. No wonder you’re able to support Trump.

          • We read you like an open book, so there is very little you have to hide, except your shoe size.

          • itsfun says:

            blah blah blah blah blah blah

          • I Am Helpy says:

            You seem mad about … well, minorities mostly.

          • itsfun says:

            another one of the big five. That’s all you got.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “It’s boring pointing out that I’m racist so it doesn’t count for some reason” – you, a racist.

      • I Am Helpy says:

        You have such bizarre misunderstanding about the world.

      • iamproteus says:

        Itsfun, are you related to Aglander? I only ask because you both spout the same sort of ridiculous bullshlt!

        • itsfun says:

          nope I have never had the pleasure of meeting aglander. If you don’t like what we post, don’t read what we post. It may save you some heartburn.

          • iamproteus says:

            No worries about heartburn….I actually am somewhat entertained. I never cease to marvel at the crap you two come up with!

          • itsfun says:

            keep marveling and have fun

          • iamproteus says:

            I guess it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…keep posting your idiotic crap and I’ll continue to marvel at it and have fun!

          • I Am Helpy says:

            It was actually three, but I think Otto got banned. Too many racial slurs.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Why would you say it would be a pleasure to meet a neo-Nazi Stormfront poster?

          • itsfun says:

            why would you call someone you don’t know anything about a neo-Nazi? Is it because they don’t agree with your socialist ideas?

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “Who’s the REAL racist – the racist, or the people he hates? I just can’t tell!!!1”

          • itsfun says:

            yep; fall back on one of the big 5. Call someone racist, or a bigot, or a hater, or just call name and blame George Bush for the failed policies of the last 8 years. That old crap just doesn’t work anymore.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Weird, because I didn’t do any of that. I mean, I get that you are inept, but even for you those are some bizarre strawmen. To sum up: I mentioned that your man-crush is a neo-Nazi – he first turned up to defend Otto (PBUH). For some reason you got SUPER MAD about that; however, the various shortcomings of you cretins are not in any wise my fault.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            PS: it’s weird and DEEPLY stupid that you accuse me of assigning political beliefs to someone, then call me a socialist. So very, very dumb.

          • We read your posts to get a laugh. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking you have anything meaningful to say in any conversation, on any topic.

          • itsfun says:

            blah blah blah Do you really think I care what you think about my posts?

          • iamproteus says:

            You must care. Why else would you continue to spread your crap around?

          • itsfun says:

            I don’t care whether you like what I post or don’t like what I post. I will post whatever I want when I want. For your info its called freedom of speech.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            That’s not what freedom of speech means.

            I hope that helps!

          • itsfun says:

            Didn’t know you get to decide what freedom of speech is.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            “Freedom of speech” doesn’t mean soiling yourself in public. It literally just means that the government is only allowed to partially restrict what you say. It is not applicable to anything that you post on this or any other non-government website. Small children can grasp this concept.

          • itsfun says:

            So, you are declaring this to be a constitution free zone.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            Wow. You are dumb as hell.

          • itsfun says:

            you are the north end of a south bound horse.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK thanks for the insult. Doesn’t change the fact that I literally just pointed out to you that freedom of speech does not apply to non-government websites and yet you started whining like a moron about the Constitution. You are dumb as hell.

          • itsfun says:

            You are still the north end of a south bound horse.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK sorry to hear that you are mad about your inability to understand the Constitution at even an elementary school level; not my fault, and not an excuse for your feeble insults. You are dumb as hell.

          • itsfun says:

            blah blah blah blah blah You are a damned fool.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous post. You do not have freedom of speech here or on any non-government website. A child would have grasped this by now, although obviously that is orders of magnitude more mental acuity than you will ever possess. You are dumb as hell.

          • itsfun says:

            see previous post just more blah blah blah from a fool

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK sorry that you were embarrassingly wrong and can’t let that go. It’s hilarious, of course. You are dumb as hell.

          • itsfun says:

            blah blah blah blah blah blah

          • I Am Helpy says:

            See previous post. You are dumb as hell.

        • No, they just share the same bedroom.

  5. itsfun says:

    Just saying someone is a great leader or you respect the person does not make them your “pal”. It does say you won’t underestimate them by doing things like calling them the JV team.

    • Thoughtopsy says:

      Calling Putin a better leader than Obama is not just “admiring” them.
      It’s saying that a dictator who has left a trail of murdered and imprisoned opponents, and who just rebuilt the old KGB, as better than the US President.
      And note… that wasn’t on single issues. That was in general.

      • itsfun says:

        He said he respect Putin as a leader, not as his friend. He said he didn’t agree with Putin’s type of government. Putin probably is a better leader than Obama. Putin does terrible things, but he goes all in, and doesn’t wait until he reads polls. Obama won’t even call terrorist by name. He calls them JV. This is not leading.

        • Sand_Cat says:

          Then why is Trump essentially threatening the same kind of government as Putin?

          Sure, you can deny it, if it make you feel better, but just what do you think Trump will actually try to do if he wins? You once said you didn’t like Trump, but it seems that may not be the case any more.

        • I Am Helpy says:

          It’s amazing how you’re willing to give Trump a pass for things he said, but will hold imaginary wrongs against Clinton and Obama. Why, it’s almost like you’re an ignorant hypocrite or something?

  6. Jon says:

    There’s little doubt that Putin will be saying good things about Trump and letting him know he is highly offended by Pence’s description of him and the things he said about him and Russia. Trump will reign his apprentice in and make clear that saying those things are unacceptable and will get him fired.

  7. Whatever Pence says has no effect on a “deaf” Trump who is conditioned to “listen” only to himself, and only “hears” the voices of others, and those of a raucous crowd.

  8. Just saw on CNN that Trump gives himself credit for Pence’s so-called good performance. Trump, if anything, is consistent when it comes to nursing his ego.
    Trump went on to say that Pence was “cool and smart”—Trump certainly isn’t cool, and as for smarts, he’s smart enough to know how to use anything or anyone to his advantage—as smart as a python.
    Pence had asserted during the debate that if Trump is in the WH, then Putin will know he’s there. As though that is supposed to give us assurance and give Vladimir a sense of shock and awe. What would happen is that Putin will start to lick his chops and rape Syria on Assad’s behalf, and Trump would not be the wiser, just as he had no clue of Putin’s incursions in Ukraine and Crimea.

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