Donald Trump’s controversial call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” met with broad criticism from elected officials, including Pence, who tweeted the following day:
Pence addressed the disagreement as VP speculation heated up, telling ABC’s Tom Llamas that he has “taken issue with our candidates from time to time” and that in Congress and as governor “I haven’t agreed with every one of my Republican colleagues or my Democrat colleagues on every issue” but that he believes Trump will supply needed change and leadership for the country.
A cornerstone of Trump’s campaign has been trade -- specifically the idea that recent trade deals have been terrible for the U.S.
Pence has enthusiastically supported all of them. In Congress, Pence voted in favor of every major trade agreement during his House tenure: the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2005 and the Korea, Panama, and Colombia FTAs in 2011.
Pence has supported both. On TPP, he tweeted:
On the House floor in 2001, Pence sung the praises of NAFTA and its effects on Indiana’s agricultural exports: “As the nation’s sixth largest corn producer, Indiana benefited directly under the North American Free Trade Agreement,” he said. “…You can see that our existing trade agreements have truly benefited Indiana and the United States.” (Video here.)
Pence joined the chorus denouncing Trump’s allegation that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, an American of Mexican heritage, could not fairly adjudicate the Trump University lawsuit because he is “Mexican.”
Curiel was born in Pence’s home state of Indiana.
“Every American is entitled to a fair trial and an impartial judge, but of course I think those comments were inappropriate,” Pence said June 7, the Indianapolis Star reported, the week after fresh Trump comments on Curiel stirred a national controversy.
“I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to question the partiality of the judge based on their ethnic background,” Pence said.
On March 30, Trump caused a stir by telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions. That contradicted the posture of anti-abortion groups, which say abortion should be illegal but not that women should be punished for having them. Trump quickly backtracked from the comment.
Pence’s office issued a statement of disagreement, local media reported: “Governor Pence does not agree with the statement made by Donald Trump. As someone who has embraced the pro-life position all of his life, he has a deep compassion for expected mothers and the unborn,” the statement read.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Pence has been a staunch defender of the war.
Pence took that same vote. Serving in the House in 2002, Pence also voted in favor of the Iraq invasion, in October of that year.
At a 2003 hearing on WMD evidence, Pence said: “I would’ve strongly supported the decision to go to war based simply on what was in the public domain, based on an appalling and Stalin-like record on human rights, based on association with terrorist organizations across the region…” (Video here.)
Pence later defended the 2007 troop “surge.”
Pence endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s last significant challenger, days before the critical primary in Pence’s home state of Indiana.
“I see Ted Cruz as a principled conservative,” Pence said in a radio interview April 29. “I’m pleased to support him.”
But the endorsement was seen as tepid. With Cruz’s campaign in need of a big win, and with attacks between Cruz and Trump escalating by the day, Pence pointed out that he liked and respected all three remaining candidates: Cruz, Trump, and John Kasich.
“I particularly want to commend Donald Trump,” Pence said. “I’m grateful for his voice in the national debate.”
The endorsement didn’t boost Cruz to the victory he’d hoped for. Days later, Trump would win the Indiana GOP primary, leading both Cruz and Kasich to exit the race and securing for Trump the presumptive nomination.