But this is Donald Trump we're talking about. And he's not exactly great at spreading praise around or letting the spotlight wander off of him for very long. And so, almost as soon as the debate ended, word began to leak out that Trump may not have been thrilled with Pence.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway insisted that these advisers and sources were wrong and that Trump was thrilled by Pence's performance. (Sidebar: Hillary Clinton was equally thrilled with running mate Tim Kaine's performance.)
Later in the day, Trump seemed to have made peace with a strong performance by his running mate -- by taking credit for it all.
That is remarkable.
I know I shouldn't be surprised by the extent to which Trump sees everything that happens in the world through the lens of Donald Trump. He's shown time and time again -- whether it's reacting to the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida or the shooting death of NBA star Dwyane Wade's cousin -- that his worldview is informed by one thing and one thing only: How does this affect me?
That said, I am still surprised at Trump's reaction to Pence's debate performance! (I just don't learn, I guess.) Pence's performance was good -- full stop -- for Trump. Did he defend every proposal Trump has made with the vim and vigor Trump might have wanted? No. Did he do more for Mike Pence's personal brand than for Donald Trump's? Yes.
But, that is missing the forest for the trees. If you tuned in Tuesday night, you saw a calm, thoughtful defense of conservatism and a well-prosecuted case against Clinton. That is a very good thing for Trump's chances of being president -- whether it was Pence making the case or Trump doing it.
That Trump struggles to see that because of his own obsession with being the best at all things ever -- here's a list of 19 things Trump thinks he knows better than anyone else -- is remarkable. Campaigns, at least winning ones, are a massive team effort in which the presidential candidate is the lead player but not the only one. And the best of bosses know that letting praise flow downward, rather than keeping it all to yourself, is the way you keep everyone on the team happy.
Trump seems to either not know or not care about that reality. For him, the conversation -- every conversation -- needs to start and end with him. If it doesn't, he thinks he's losing something. What that "something " is I can't totally figure out.