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Mike Pence tried to bring back the dog whistle.

Will McNamee / Getty Images

Calling for a return to “law and order” in the wake of a series of prominent police shootings, Pence was slicker and more effective at communicating Trump’s policies than the candidate himself. Employing a somber, steady delivery in the vice presidential debate on Tuesday night, he dismissed the idea of “institutional racism” and “implicit bias” in police departments as a wild fantasy of the left. “We need to stop seizing on these moments of tragedy,” he said, shaking his head in disappointment.

Tim Kaine exasperatedly pointed out that racism and bias are plainly explicit in Trump’s “law and order” campaign—which Pence tried to shake off as an “avalanche of insults.” But in his original response, Pence gave us a glimpse of the way Republicans used to run on this issue, leaving the subtext unsaid.