For much of the weekend—almost certainly the craziest in the history of American presidential politics—the glare was on Donald Trump, his comments about women, and what he would do about them. But the spotlight would occasionally pan to Pence. For 36 hours or so, with Republicans bailing on Trump left and right, it looked like the GOP ticket could collapse. Pence and his wife were reportedly “apoplectic” about Trump, and his aides were leaking to the media that if the debate did not go well, Pence might jump ship.
It’s possible that it was never a serious possibility, that Pence was trying to exert influence over Trump and get him to do what he wanted—specifically, to apologize effusively for his awful treatment of women. But Trump didn’t really do that, and instead spent 90 minutes threatening to lock Hillary up, talking about women who had accused her husband of sexual assault, and looming behind her. He even contradicted Pence, who had attacked Vladimir Putin during the VP debate. Still, he got positive reviews from some pundits because as long as Trump didn’t defecate on stage or pull out his penis he would clear the low bar that had been set for him. (He didn’t do either of those things.)
So, with a wink to the reports of intra-ticket discord, Pence made it clear immediately after the debate that he wasn’t going anywhere:
On Monday morning, he told CNN that he had never even for a minute considered leaving the ticket.
Pence proved his loyalty by mentioning Hillary Clinton’s husband’s alleged history of abuse whenever the tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault came up. He did it with a particularly Pence-ian touch, however:
And he also seemed to have no problem with Trump’s promise to use the office of the presidency to hound his political rivals:
Still, the fact that Pence has to reassure the public that he’s not going to ditch Trump is, to put it lightly, not a very good sign for Trump’s hopes in the election’s final month.