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Campaign takes its toll on Mike Pence's supposed strengths

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has a reputation as the politically astute one on the Republican ticket. It's time to reconsider those assumptions.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during the Innovation Showcase, July 14, 2016, in Ind. (Photo by Darron Cummings/AP)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during the Innovation Showcase, July 14, 2016, in Ind.
For all its many faults, the Republican Party's presidential ticket at least offers something resembling "balance." Donald Trump has no experience; Mike Pence has spent years in public office. Trump is narcissistic; Pence is modest. Trump is occasionally a wild-eyed loon; Pence is mild-mannered.But most of all, the Indiana governor is supposed to be the politically astute one on the GOP ticket -- the candidate who knows how to talk to real people and understand their concerns.It therefore came as something of a surprise yesterday when the Republicans' vice presidential nominee talked to WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, and heard a question from an 11-year-old girl who said, after hearing Trump's rhetoric, "When I hear those words and look in the mirror, they make me feel bad about myself." Pence was asked what he'd say to that girl and he responded:

"Well, I would say to any one of my kids and any children in this country that Donald Trump and I are committed to a safer and more prosperous future for their family. The weak and feckless foreign policy that Hillary Clinton promises to continue, has literally caused wider areas of the world to spin apart. The rise of terrorist threats that have inspired violence here at home, and we've seen an erosion of law and order in our streets."And we've seen jobs and opportunities evaporate and even leave Ohio and leave this country. I would say to any of our kids that if Donald Trump and I have the chance to serve in the White House, that we're going to work every day for a stronger, safer and more prosperous America."

Oh. So Trump's misogyny made an 11-year-old girl feel bad, and Mike Pence wants her to know that there's violent crime and terrorist threats that she should blame on the Obama administration.And he's supposed to be the politically astute one.Pence also talked to CBS News this morning and was asked about First Lady Michelle Obama's speech yesterday condemning Trump's predatory behavior towards women. "I have a lot of respect for the first lady and the job she has done for the American people over the last seven and a half years. But I don't understand the basis of her claim," he said.I don't understand what Pence doesn't understand. The Indiana governor heard the recording of Trump bragging about sexual assault and the VP candidate put out a statement condemning Trump's rhetoric. "I do not condone his remarks," Pence said on Saturday, "and cannot defend them."So what is it, exactly, Pence doesn't understand about Michelle Obama's criticisms?