Mike Pence on Donald Trump: "I believe in forgiveness"

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence addressed the controversy over Donald Trump’s 2005 lewd remarks about women at a rally in North Carolina Monday, reassuring supporters that he is “proud to stand with Donald Trump.”

Pence said Trump has apologized, and “it takes a big man to know when he is wrong and to admit it and to have the humility to apologize and be transparent and be vulnerable with people.”

“Donald Trump last night showed that he is a big man,” he added.

Last Friday, the Washington Post released a 2005 tape of Donald Trump talking with then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about his attempts to pick up women. In the video, Trump said it was acceptable for famous men to make certain advances on women, including “grab[bing] them by the p****,” adding, “when you’re a star they let you do it.”

Pence released a statement the following day saying he “cannot defend” Trump’s remarks and canceled a campaign appearance that day, effectively making it clear that Trump was on his own in dealing with the  scandal.

On Monday, the governor reiterated his own disappointment with the comments Trump makes in the video. “I don’t condone what was said and I spoke out against it,” he said.

But Pence made it clear that he stands with Trump—and used his Christian faith as a way of explaining that everyone, Trump included, deserves forgiveness. 

“The other part of my faith is I believe in grace. I’ve received it. I believe in it,” he said. “I believe in forgiveness, and we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven.”

The differences between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the futures they promise for the country are stark, Pence said.  “It’s not just a choice between two people,” he said. “It’s a choice between two futures.”

And for the first time in a long time, Pence resorted to the kind of name-calling Trump is known for on the campaign trail, describing Clinton in a joke as “dishonest Hillary.” 

Referring to the moment in Sunday night’s debate when Clinton invoked the movie “Lincoln” as she was asked about the Wikileaks transcripts of her Wall Street speeches, Pence said: “We got a lecture about Abraham Lincoln. Did you see that? Well, as a member of the party of Lincoln, I would prefer if dishonest Hillary did not associate herself with honest Abe.”

Pence told the crowd he will meet Monday night with Dorothy Woods, the wife of Tyrone Woods, who was killed in the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.