Donald Trump on Wednesday touted what he called his running mate's “decisive victory” at the vice presidential debate the night before, saying Mike Pence did an “incredible job” -- while taking credit for picking the Indiana governor for his ticket.
“Mike Pence did an incredible job, and I’m getting a lot of credit because he was my first so-called choice, my first hire as we’d say in Las Vegas,” Trump said at a Nevada rally.
“He was cool, he was smart, he was meant to be doing what he’s doing and we’re very proud of Governor Mike Pence,” Trump said. “I’d argue that Mike had the single most decisive victory in the history of vice presidential debates.”
Trump blasted Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine for focusing on “only small and petty distractions.”
The GOP nominee's glowing review marked his first extensive comments on Pence's performance, which some analysts saw as helping steady the Trump ship after the billionaire's rocky opening debate last week against Clinton.
Kaine, meanwhile, has taken heat for frequently interrupting Pence and moderator Elaine Quijano at Longwood University Tuesday night. The Republican National Committee released a video Wednesday attacking Kaine for allegedly interrupting 72 times.
Kaine during the debate went after Trump’s tax returns and his coarse comments on the campaign trail about women and immigrants, daring Pence to defend him. Pence countered that Trump’s comments are “small potatoes” compared with Clinton calling half their supporters a “basket of deplorables.”
The Clinton campaign defended Kaine against the post-debate jabs. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook credited Kaine for interjecting and said Trump is the one who lost the debate because Pence, he claimed, did not adequately defend him.
Clinton tweeted that she was "lucky to have a partner like @TimKaine who stood up for our shared vision tonight -- instead of trying to deny it."
However, analysts largely gave Pence the spoils for his composure on stage.
While vice presidential debates rarely move the needle significantly in the race for the White House, the Trump campaign seized on the debate as a chance to reset the campaign narrative after the first presidential debate which Trump was widely seen to have lost.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, speaking Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends,” claimed the Clinton camp was dealing with a “one-two punch” – a day after Bill Clinton undercut his wife’s health care message by criticizing the “crazy” ObamaCare system, she said, Kaine spent Tuesday night “doing her no favors.”
Trump made reference to Bill Clinton’s apparent criticism of ObamaCare, telling the crowd in Nevada that Clinton “torched” Obama’s signature legislation.
"They are so angry at him, they scolded him," Trump said.