Why Mike Pence's Answers During The Vice Presidential Pose A Significant Problem For Donald Trump

There won't be an official winner of the presidential race until November, but many are calling Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence the winner of Tuesday's vice presidential debate against Democrat Tim Kaine. During the debate Pence seemed outwardly calm, leading many to crown him victor over his less composed opponent Kaine, despite his use of gaslighting to deny proven facts.

But not all of tonight went well for Team Pence. A Trump adviser apparently told CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood that "Pence won overall, but lost with Trump," by passing up opportunities to defend Trump, according to a tweet. In addition, the adviser brought up the unfavorable juxtaposition between Pence's strong debate performance and Trump's poor showing last week, saying Trump "can't stand to be upstaged," Harwood tweeted.

During Tuesday's debate, Kaine pushed Pence to explain Trump's statements on rather controversial topics ranging from Russian president Vladimir Putin to whether Trump would deport undocumented immigrants en masse. In some of his own answers to those questions, Pence continued with the gaslighting technique, claiming that Trump hadn't made statements that he had clearly made. And in other answers, he blatantly went against Trump's stances on Russia, Syria, and other controversial topics.

Pence called Putin a bully, criticizing Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration for not being tough enough towards the Russian leader. But Trump on many occasions has praised Putin, saying things like, "I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin," in 2015 after announcing his candidacy, and rating Putin's leadership as an "A."

Pence also went directly against Trump's stance on Syria by saying a Trump administration would "be prepared to strike military targets of the Assad regime" if Russia continued to support Assad's deadly attacks on Aleppo. Pence's running mate on the other hand said during a May interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe that Trump "would have stayed out of Syria ... [America has] bigger problems than Assad."

Unfortunately for Pence, disagreeing with Trump's stances could upset the Republican presidential candidate, even if those answers were what caused Pence to be perceived as a better debater of the night. Pence is also now on the record basically arguing against Trump on several topics, a fact that Clinton's campaign might use to its advantage during the second presidential debate on Oct. 9. Of course, Trump could borrow Pence's technique of denying irrevocable facts and claim that the two had never actually had different opinions on Syria and Russia. We'll see how it all works out for Trump and Pence after the next debate.