Back in August, Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence insisted that he’s not Donald Trump‘s “cleanup crew.” Tonight, he offered some evidence for that assertion by largely side-stepping the chance to defend Trump—and went beyond it by staking out positions that differ from the man at the top of the ticket.
• While Trump has often praised Putin, calling him a “leader far more than our president [Obama] and extolling the Russian president’s high approval ratings, Pence tonight called him a “small and bullying leader” who is “dictating terms to the United States.”
• While Trump has rarely touched on Syria’s civil war and provided few details of his “secret” plan for resolving the conflict, Pence outlined a whole series of measures: Pence said that he “truly believe(s) that what America ought to do right now is immediately establish safe zones, so that families and children can work out of those areas,” and “work with our partners…[to] make that happen. Provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength,” reports the Washington Post. Pence added that if Russia “continues to be involved” in airstrikes with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. “should be prepared to use military force to strike the military forces of the Assad regime” and “prevent this crisis in Aleppo.”