Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence celebrate, during the final day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016. 
Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty

How will Trump react to Pence’s VP debate performance?

On the surface, Donald Trump should probably be quite pleased with the reaction to the vice presidential debate. The Republican’s campaign has been struggling badly, but last night’s event brought a welcome interruption to the litany of bad news facing the GOP ticket.

Sure, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) lied repeatedly throughout the event, but since style and theatrics tend to generate so much attention, there’s a fair amount of chatter this morning about the Republican vice presidential nominee having “won” the showdown.

But just below the surface, there’s some question as to how Trump actually felt about the developments. CNBC’s John Harwood noted last night:
Trump adviser on debate after Pence passed up opportunities to defend him: “Pence won overall, but lost with Trump.”
Harwood added soon after that the campaign adviser said Trump “can’t stand to be upstaged,” and the Republican presidential hopeful wasn’t reacting well to the fact that Pence was perceived as having done better than Trump did last week.

CNN’s John King also said he’d spoken to a source close to the GOP nominee, who said positive reviews for Pence’s debate performance “won’t go over well with Trump.”

I suppose anyone who’s followed Trump’s candidacy closely shouldn’t be too surprised by this behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt – the Republican candidate has a reputation for narcissism for a reason – and it’s certainly possible that Trump will have the good sense not to react to the post-debate buzz in an unhealthy way.

But it’s also pretty easy to imagine the opposite.

Part of the dynamic, of course, is the fact that Pence didn’t seem at all interested in defending Trump or his record. But complicating matters is the fact that many of the same conservatives Trump wants to impress praised Pence’s debate performance a week after panning his own.

Indeed, much of the overnight conversation was built on the idea that Trump will lose and Pence is positioned to help lead the Republican Party’s future. Roll Call ran an opinion piece this morning declaring Pence the winner – of the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

Is this the sort of thing that will push Trump over the edge? It’s certainly possible, and we’ll find out soon enough.

Debates, Donald Trump and Mike Pence

How will Trump react to Pence's VP debate performance?