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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Running mate Pence backs Trump's call to 'temporarily suspend immigration' from terror-prone countries

Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate has lined up behind him on the question of whether it's appropriate to pause the admission of immigrants to the U.S. from specific nations that are hotbeds of terrorism.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Friday night that 'I am very supportive of Donald Trump's call to temporarily suspend immigration from countries where terrorists influence and impact represents a threat to the United States.'

'There's no question it's the right view,' he added later.

That's a shift from Pence's earlier objection to the first version of Trump's signature anti-terror policy proposal, which specified 'Muslims' – not certain foreign nationals – as targets for a temporary halt at the border.

After Trump announced his proposal in December, following gruesome Islamist attacks in Paris and California, Pence tweeted: 'Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.'

'Was it a wording difference?' Hannity asked, searching for an explanation for Pence's sudden lockstep agreement with the man he hopes will become his boss.

'I've never hesitated to take issue with fellow Republicans when I don't think things came out quite right, or how I would have done it,' Pence replied.

'But ... I want folks to know that I strongly agree with Donald Trump's call that we've got to do something different.'

Around the same time Trump was proposing 'a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on,' Pence was using his power as governor to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.

A federal judge later blocked that decision, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is still hearing the case.

Trump later said his initial approach was 'just a suggestion.'

He ultimately settled on a policy prescription that is nation-specific, although he hasn't articulated a list of which nations' citizens would find America's doors closed to them.

Those countries could include Syria, Iraq and Yemen – but also, in light of recent terror attacks, France and Belgium.

Pence insisted that any change in U.S. policy would be temporary and intended to give the government a chance to evaluate and vet prospective immigrants from terror-torn parts of the globe.

'What I've heard from Donald Trump,' Pence told Hannity, 'and I believe the position that he's articulated – it resonates with millions of Americans – is that we've got to find out what's going on, and we've got to do something different, and we've got to put the safety and security of the American people first.'

Trump named Pence his running mate on Friday after a day of speculation fueled by leaks to reporters, largely emanating from Iowa.

But the governor said he 'stepped up without hesitation' when Trump asked him to join the campaign.

He said Trump 'understand the anxiety and the aspiration of the American people like no leader since [Ronald] Reagan. And he's given voice to that, and people have rallied around him – and I believe will continue to rally around him.'

Pence said he was in sync with Trump on other issues, including the prospect of walling off America's southern border.

Asked if he believes, as Trump does, that Mexico will ultimately fund the project, he said: 'Absolutely.'

'Building the wall, establishing border security has to be job one,' Pence added. 'Internal enforcement. I mean, we are a nation of laws and we need to uphold those laws.'

The governor sought to tamp down concerns about his past support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, both of which Trump has pilloried in his campaign speeches.

'I've always supported free trade and Donald Trump supports free trade,' he insisted. 'Trade and commerce supports American jobs and supports growth in this country.'

'But I think when we elect one of the best negotiators in the world as president of the United States, I'm open to renegotiating these trade agreements.'

Pence said he favored 'looking at bilateral trade agreements instead of multilateral. That's a policy I can strongly support.'

Another  area of disagreement between the two Republican standard bearers involves President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq. Pence voted in Congress to approve the use of military force, while Trump has said he opposed it at the time.

'I think reasonable people can differ on whether or not we should have gone into Iraq,' Pence said Friday. 'But where Donald Trump and I are in strong agreement is that Barack Obama's precipitous withdrawal from Iraq created a vacuum in which ISIS was created.'

He said the judgment of whether the invasion was a sound decision, though, was 'for historians to debate.'

'What happened in Orlando, what just happened in Nice, these are terrorist attacks that are inspired by a military organization.'

He also called the ISIS terror army 'a military enemy' that uses a 'metastasized version of Islam that is radical Islam, that's being used as a justification for simply a power grab in the region.'
Asked to rank on a scale from one to ten the importance of spending taxpayer dollars for a new military buildup, Pence responded: 'Eleven.'

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