Indiana Gov. Mike Pence insisted Monday morning that he will remain GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate in the wake of an 11-year-old tape of the then-reality star making explicit comments about women, and he hopes Americans believe in redemption after Trump apologized for his words.
"I had said before I was offended by what I saw on that video, that I didn't condone it, couldn't defend him," Pence told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program. "I urged him to show his heart to the American people on Sunday night. I think he's done that. My hope is that people across the country, including elected officials believe in redemption as much as I do and second chances as I do."
Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would take the country in dramatically different directions, he continued, and he hopes voters see that.
"One of the things that Donald Trump said to me, he said, it's 'not about him, not us, it's about the country, the future,'" Pence continued. "Seven out of 10 Americans know this country is headed in the wrong direction. Donald Trump and I want to take it to a direction of stronger military, lower taxes, repeal Obamacare, end the war on coal. What we need to have is to have people to stand with us."
Pence, a former U.S. representative, said he will be happy to talk to "any of my friends in leadership" about supporting Trump after the damaging tape's release.
"Hillary Clinton essentially wants to continue the policies that have weakened America's place in the world, stifled our economy, walked away from our most cherished institutions like the Second Amendment," said Pence.
"Donald Trump and I want to go back in the direction of a higher — stronger America at home and abroad and uphold the highest standards of integrity in the highest office in the land."
Pence also said an article in one of his home state's newspapers, The Indianapolis Star, was "absolutely false" with its claims that he was waiting to see how Trump did in Sunday night's debate before deciding if he'd pull out of the race.
"These rumors just furl around presidential campaigns," said Pence. "This is the first time I've ever been at this level. It's remarkable. The real story this morning is Donald Trump stepped up and won the debate last night that seemed to be against all odds.
"He stepped up . . . I know for a fact that Donald Trump is deeply sorry. He's expressed his apology, but what I think people saw last night was someone who said, 'look, I'm not a perfect person. I've made mistakes. I'm not proud of these things. I've expressed an apology' . . .
"But this election is not about any one individual," Pence continued. "It's really about the future of the country and I couldn't have been more proud of the way that he focused last night on the choice the American people face and really and truly, I'm proud of the job at that he did and proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him."
Pence also accused debate co-moderator Martha Raddatz of mischaracterizing a statement he made in his debate a week ago when asking Trump about his opinion on Russia and Syria.
"I didn't begrudge him at all saying we didn't discuss it," said Pence. "Make no mistake, in Donald Trump and I, you'll have a different kind of leadership relative to Syria. His folk, as he made clear, is on hunting down and destroying ISIS within Syria but establishing and securing safe Zones has been a policy of the team and the administration going forward."
Meanwhile, Pence told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle Monday that Trump's words about women were only words, and he believes him. Further, he does not believe the American public is focused on such scandals, but are more concerned with terrorism and the economy.
Ruhle said that her mother over the weekend questioned how anyone could vote for Trump, and Pence said he'd tell her and others who doubt Trump that he can think of just "one person who was perfect in human history," but nobody else is.
"We've got to be a stronger America," said Pence. "We've got to stand with our allies. We have to confront our enemies, and we gotta get this economy moving again with the time-honored principles of less government, less regulation, and more economic freedom. That's what Donald Trump offers."
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