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Mike Pence tries to be Donald Trump's nice guy

Mike Pence confronted

On the day Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence became Donald Trump's running mate last month, the Indiana governor told CBS News' Leslie Stahl in an interview on "60 Minutes" that it's "obvious to people that our styles are different. But I promise you, our vision is exactly the same."

From the way Pence treats protesters to the way he talks about his political opponents, the difference between him and his boss has been on display in the week since the Republican National Convention.

"Be quiet!" Trump exclaimed impatiently when NBC's Katie Tur tried to follow up on a question during a Florida press conference earlier last week. It was a moment that reflected his antagonistic relationship with the reporters covering him.

VP candidate Mike Pence takes a spin on a Harley


At rallies, Trump frequently attacks the press as the "most dishonest people." Earlier in July, campaign surrogate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich revealed that Trump, "has concluded that you guys in the media will kill him unless he destroys your credibility."

Contrast that with the Indiana governor who doesn't go beyond the time-tested tradition of accusing the media of being biased against Republicans. On his campaign plane, the Indiana governor and his wife Karen delivered two trays of cupcakes and sang happy birthday to a reporter in his traveling press corps. As the network television producers struggled down the aisle with camera bags, tripods, and other equipment, Pence even offered to help.

The former radio-host-turned-member-of-Congress pushed for legislation that would have protected journalists from having to reveal their sources, while Trump has suggested that it should be easier to sue for libel. When a Washington Post reporter was denied entry into a Pence campaign event in Wisconsin and then patted down by security, Pence promised Hugh Hewitt in an interview Friday that he would push the Trump campaign to end the blacklist of certain outlets "whether they're fair or unfair."

"I don't think name calling has any place in public life," Pence commented in the same interview. But he wasn't referring to Trump's frequent insults -- instead, he was talking about President Obama's suggestion that Trump is a "homegrown demagogue." He continued, "I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that."

Given that the man who he refers to as "his boss" engages in more name-calling than any presidential nominee in memory, Pence's statement was jarring. But despite that dissonance, Pence has assiduously played nice in the few short weeks he's been on the trail.

When Pence attacks his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, he's stuck to the issues. Indeed, the Indiana governor gets personal -- but only to note the personal similarities between the men.

"A lot of people have been talking about the things we have in common. And we got a little bit in common. Great families, we got three kids," Pence told a Michigan audience on Thursday. In a line that drew cheers from an audience, Pence said they were "both the proud fathers of United States Marines."

Trump, on the other hand, has called Kaine a "weird little dude."

In that "60 Minutes" interview several weeks ago, Trump suggested it's okay that Pence lacked a penchant for name-calling. "I don't think it would sound right," Trump said when asked if Pence should call Hillary Clinton "Crooked Hillary," the mogul's preferred nickname for his Democratic rival.

How Trump-Khan war of words unfolded

At every recent Trump and Pence rally, chants of "lock her up!" break out when Hillary Clinton is merely alluded to. In Colorado Springs on Friday, Trump reacted to those chants saying, " You know what? I've been saying, I've been saying let's just beat her on November 8th but you know what? You know what? I'm starting to agree with you." In contrast, later that night in Lima, Ohio, when chants of "lock her up" broke out, Pence only shook his head, smiled without opening his mouth, and then continued with his remarks.

So far Pence's treatment of protesters has also been a display in self-restraint compared to Trump. For the first time since joining the ticket, two protesters disrupted his speech at that Friday Lima event with cries of "Lima hates Trump" and "Love trumps hate." As the two were escorted out with the crowd drowning the pair out with chants of "USA, USA, USA," Pence remarked, "I always tell my kids that's what freedom looks like and that's what freedom sounds like."

Pence has also taken a markedly different approach to discussing Khzir Khan, the Muslim father of an Army captain who was killed fighting in Iraq. While Trump has repeatedly struck out at Khan, Pence did not on Monday night, simply telling a Nevada crowd that "Captain Khan is an American hero and we honor him and honor his family."

The "obvious" difference between the two men isn't lost upon Pence's audiences on the campaign trail. "You know, we're a little bit different," Pence joked last week in Grand Rapids. "Not only in our style, but also -- okay, our balance sheet, just a little difference."

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