Liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews said Tuesday night that he believed Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence emerged the winner from Tuesday’s debate with Democratic opponent Tim Kaine.
“Overall, I think the winner tonight, in terms of the debate and what they were trying to accomplish: Pence,” said Matthews. “Because Pence really was solid. He looked like he had his head screwed on. And I think that’s going to look very important for Trump, who doesn’t often look like he has his head screwed on.”
Matthews praised Pence for staying calm despite having to defend some of Trump’s past mishaps. “I thought he was very effective at being a conservative… He was pro-life. He was rather eloquent at the end. You may not agree with him, but he was eloquent.”
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The MSNBC host claimed that Pence’s performance “made himself the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2020,” and had accomplished giving the Trump campaign a nice boost.
Matthews noted that Kaine did a good job at hitting Democratic “erogenous zones,” but should have waited his turn and not seemed so eager to talk over his opponent.
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“On the other hand, I thought at times, and I like the guy, Kaine was a little desperate there, jumping in all the time, always trying to get his points…” Matthews said. “I don’t know why he kept interrupting, because with two people debating, the other guy gets the chance to speak. He couldn’t wait for that, and I think that hurt him.”
Matthews’ praise of the Republican vice presidential nominee is in stark contrast to his MSNBC colleague, Rachel Maddow. After previewing Tuesday’s debate, she unloaded on Pence.
“Mike Pence is a hard-line, hard-core, religious-right guy,” Maddow lamented. “He’s running with, you know, [a] thrice-married, brags about his affairs, Two Corinthians, not-a-religious-right guy at the top of his ticket.
The media attempted to spin Pence’s apparent victory by writing headlines indicating Trump was unhappy that his running mate did a better job than him.
Politico reported on the incident:
Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said her boss was “excited” and “proud” after Mike Pence’s debate performance Tuesday night, pushing back against reports that the Manhattan billionaire felt upstaged by his running mate’s superior showing.
“CNN’s John King, reporting from a source close to Trump, that the reviews that Pence did better [than] he did won’t go over well with Trump,” the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. That post was followed shortly by one from CNBC’s John Harwood, who wrote, “Trump adviser on debate after Pence passed up opportunities to defend him: ‘Pence won overall, but lost with Trump.’”
Conway said Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that such reports were “just not true.”
Commenting on Trump’s pride in Pence’s debate performance, Conway referenced former President Ronald Reagan’s thoughts on surrounding yourself with the the best people.
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“I think the one thing to remember is that, as Ronald Reagan always said, personnel is policy. And Donald Trump has promised as president to surround himself with the best people. You saw last night who the best people are,” Conway said. “The first exercise in judgment in leadership by Donald J. Trump after he became the Republican nominee was his selection of his vice presidential running mate, and you see it was just a fantastic pick.”
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