It is clear by now what kind of man Donald Trump is. But the question on the mind of a lot of people today is, “What kind of man is Mike Pence?”
As Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Pence is the one holding the rug in place that Trump is standing on. He’d be doing America a favor if he jerked it out from under him.
While we might not all agree with the Indiana governor’s politics, there is no question that Pence’s values clash with Trump’s. He has made Trump’s candidacy more tolerable for some conservatives who abhor the Republican nominee as much as Hillary Clinton. That’s why he’s on the ticket.
It is hard to imagine how anyone could go out on the campaign trail and stump for Trump after the vile things he was caught saying about women, as well as the stunt he pulled at Sunday night’s debate. But on Monday, Trump’s running mate reiterated that he’s standing by his man.
Trump has made it clear that if he goes down, he will try and take not just the Republican Party with him but the entire country. Pence should walk away while he has only a few minor bruises.
What happens in the days to come will test the patriotism of the entire Republican leadership.
Can Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell put the country ahead of their partisan politics and finally say, “Enough is enough”? Or will they take the coward’s way out and continue to stand by a man who has personally insulted women, or in more practical terms, about 53 percent of the electorate?
With his back against the wall over the release of a video of him making lewd remarks about women, Trump sank lower Sunday night than many of us thought he could go. Instead of standing up like a man, he brought in four women to take the hit for him.
Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, all of whom have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct in the past, and Kathy Shelton, whose alleged rape assailant was successfully defended by Hillary Clinton years ago, likely thought they were doing the right thing by showing up at the debate with Trump.
But the truth is that Trump exploited these women. That’s basically no different than bragging about groping women to make himself look big.
Trump had a chance to look Americans in the eye Sunday night and at least try and convince us that he was genuinely sorry for those remarks. But he chose to blow it off.
When the leaked “Access Hollywood” video came up in the debate, he didn’t even try to convince us that he’s not the misogynistic pig we heard talking on that tape.
“I’m embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk and it’s one of those things,” he told us.
Pence said prior to the debate that he was “offended” by the graphic comments Trump made in 2005 in which he was caught on a hot mic talking about how being a celebrity allowed him to grab a woman’s vagina.
“As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday,” Pence said in a statement. “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”
So what is Pence going to do about it?
Trump made it clear in a Tweet on Saturday that he will never quit the race. Wary Republicans are talking about dropping support for him by withholding money and needed manpower on the ground, but Pence has the power to make a greater statement.
By leaving the ticket, Pence can tell the world that Trump is an anomaly, that he isn’t fit to represent the Republican Party, much less the United States. By withdrawing from the race, Pence would send a powerful message that Trump is an outcast who cannot be tolerated.
And in the process, Pence might be able to rescue his own tenuous political future.
It is hard to understand how any Republican could continue to support Trump after last night’s performance. We saw that he not only is unqualified but lacks the temperament for the nation’s highest office.
It was the stalking that troubled some of us the most, the constant pacing around on stage and hovering over Clinton’s personal space. Trump looked like a predator.
Perhaps it is one of the things he learned in the locker room. Trump would have us believe that this creepy behavior is typical for most men, but my guess is that it’s only attractive to a particular type of man - the ones that never grew up.
On a recent episode of “Frontline,” one of Trump’s former classmates at the military high school he attended called it “barracks talk.” Their role model was Hugh Hefner, and they learned about women from reading Playboy. While there, he was voted “Ladies Man,” a title he coveted. Others grew out of that stage, but not Trump.
Those who knew Trump as a child said in the documentary that he’s the same person he was in the first grade - the kid who would throw birthday cake at the guests. Or if a friend had built a tower made of blocks, he would walk up and knock it down.
Pence always has been the adult in this relationship. It’s time for him to start acting like it.
Dahleen Glanton is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.