Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio show Friday morning to cry foul over President Obama alluding to Donald Trump as a "homegrown demagogue."
"I don’t think name-calling has any place in public life," Pence said, according to a transcript from Hewitt's show. "And I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that."
At almost exactly the same time as the Pence transcript was being sent out to reporters, here's what Trump was tweeting:
This is one of the joys of being Trump's running mate. All of the political skills you've learned over your many years in public life — how to respond to attacks from political opponents and how to nail down a cohesive and consistent message — are basically rendered moot. They are just one tweet away from being contradicted by the guy you're running alongside.
But really, Pence's comments here are curious. He saw the GOP primary. There was "Low-energy" Jeb Bush and "Little Marco" Rubio and "Lyin' Ted" Cruz. Trump has already been calling Clinton "Crooked Hillary" for months. Before all of that, there were all of the "losers" and the "lightweights" and the "morons."
Maybe Pence was just being "sarcastic?"
But in a way, the unhelpful proximity of Pence's anti-name-calling stand and Trump's subsequent name-calling is a pretty perfect encapsulation of what awaits Pence over their next few months together. Trump has never shown much deference to the other politicians around him — even the supportive ones.
We've cataloged all the times Trump, whether intentionally or not, kind of tortured (or at least toyed with) the establishment politician who first stuck his neck out for Trump, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie got plenty of flak for lining up with Trump before Super Tuesday, and he continues to pay a price for it back home and with the broader GOP establishment. Any other politician would be eternally grateful for such things; Trump didn't seem to be. And at times he even seemed to be asserting his dominance over Christie with his little jabs about Christie not eating Oreos and not being present as governor of New Jersey.
I wrote kind of a jokey post about all of this — "Chris Christie’s never-ending tour of Donald Trump-related indignities" — but there really is some truth to this. At the very least, Trump didn't go out of his way to make Christie feel good about his decision.
And this is what awaits Pence. Trump will do what Trump does, and it will be up to Pence to square his words and actions with whatever Trump does. That's immensely more difficult given Trump is so unpredictable.
In this case, however, what Trump did was entirely predictable. Which makes Pence's words all the stranger.