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Pence sticking by Trump after 2005 comments, debate

Posted at 9:35 AM, Oct 10, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Ind. Gov. Mike Pence is sticking with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Pence's statements came the day after Trump cast aside his running mate's suggestion about what to do in Syria.

Trump's comment was yet another illustration of Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's challenge as he attempts to validate the GOP nominee's unusually vague positions on international diplomatic and military affairs.

"He and I haven't spoken, and I disagree. I disagree," Trump said during his debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton Sunday.

Trump was referring to Pence's suggestion made five days earlier during the vice presidential candidates' debate that the U.S. be ready to use force to keep Russian-backed Syrian forces from killing civilians in Aleppo, a city caught in the five-year-long civil war. Trump has advocated a hands-off approach to dealing with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

"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," Pence said during the debate with Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine on Tuesday.

After Sunday's debate, Pence tweeted his congratulations to Trump on his debate performance.

Pence also made a statement on comments Trump made in 2005. Pence's statement read:

 "As a husband and a father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people."

Monday morning, Pence denied rumors that he was even considering dropping off the ticket after Trump's 2005 comments in an interview on CNN.

"It's absolutely false to suggest that at any point in time we considered dropping off this ticket," he said. "It's the greatest honor of my life to be nominated by my party to be the vice president of the United States of America."

On Sunday, Trump did not suggest a different plan for dealing with Aleppo. He instead restated his support for creating so-called safe zones for Syrian refugees, to be paid for by Arab nations, and his primary Middle Eastern focus, eradicating the Islamic State terrorist group in the region.

"We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved," he said.

In the CNN interview Monday, Pence said his position about Syria was "misrepresented."

The difference underscores Pence's superior fluency on such issues, as a former 10-year member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as a U.S. representative from Indiana.

Pence's campaign did not reply to a request for comment by The Associated Press on Trump's disagreement with Pence's statement.