Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday fielded one of the toughest questions he’s faced as Donald Trump’s running mate – from 11-year-old Matthew Schricker.
“I’ve been watching the news lately and I’ve been noticing lately that you’ve been kind of softening up on Mr. Trump’s policies and words. Is this going to be your role in the administration?” Schricker said at Pence’s Raleigh, North Carolina, town hall.
Pence was at first taken aback. “What did you say that I’ve been doing?” Pence asked, to laughter. Schricker repeated: “You’ve been kind of softening up his words and policies.”
Pence laughed, and then gave a candid about his running mate’s style, and how it differs from his own.
“Sometimes things don’t always come out like you mean,” Pence said, before also pledging to stand by the GOP nominee.
“Donald Trump and I are absolutely determined to work together. We have different styles, you might have noticed that. I said at our convention, I said, you know we nominated someone larger than life, known for charisma. So they wanted to kind of balance the ticket.”
Pence’s answer comes after Trump’s campaign has faced reports of internal conflict over the nominee’s handling of several controversies over the past several days.
Trump has publicly feuded with the Khan family – the Muslim parents of a fallen US soldier – and refused to endorse fellow Republicans Sen. John McCain and Speaker Ryan, while attacking New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Pence on Wednesday endorsed Ryan, breaking with Trump.
Pence, who served in Congress for 12 years and has been a governor for four, joked about his own style. He described how someone had posted a caption underneath a picture of him on a motorcycle online, saying, “Born to be mild.”
“Differences in style, Matthew, should never be confused with differences in conviction and I will tell you right now Donald Trump has the right vision for America,” Pence said. “I’m going to fight everyday to tell his story all across the United States and I’m going to work at his side to make those ideas into policies that will make America great again.”
Schricker told CNN after the event that he was excited by Trump’s pick of Pence for vice president, but wanted to make sure Pence was in the race for right reasons. He had been disappointed over Pence weighing in on Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and his comments about the Khan family.
“I just wanted to see if was actually with Trump or if he was just like, or if he was just sort of doing it for himself,” Schricker told reporters. “My concern was he wasn’t going full on on Trump’s views, and I was a little worried that he was softening up a little bit.”
Schricker, who attended the event with his mother, said he was satisfied with Pence’s answer.
“He’s a little different from Donald Trump, and I like that they have different styles. He kind of balances the ticket, I like what he’s doing and he supports Donald Trump,” Schricker told reporters.
Schricker said he started supporting Trump shortly after he annouced his candidacy.
“None of the establishment politicians really followed my views and actually agreed with me,” Schricker told reporters. “So after Donald Trump came I was very satisfied with him and I loved him.”
“It’s kind of sad trying to challenge one of your allies but I just wanted to be sure what his views are,” he added.