Donald Trump can typically count on his surrogates to heap on the praise during the presidential debates, filling their Twitter feeds with compliments about his performance against Hillary Clinton. But during Sunday night's showdown, one usual Trump loyalist stayed oddly silent. The Republican nominee's running mate, Mike Pence, didn't tweet once during the debate. What does this say about Pence, whose relationship with Trump has appeared particularly strained in the days since the "grab them by the p*ssy" tape was leaked?
By all accounts, it wasn't a good night for Pence — as rumors circled that the running mate might remove himself from the ticket, Trump threw Pence under the Trump Train by disagreeing with him during the debate. When the moderator reminded Trump about Pence's position on Russian involvement with Syria, the Republican nominee quickly retaliated: "He and I haven't spoken and I disagree." Ouch.
But Sunday's night debate wasn't the first time Pence and Trump have appeared to be out of alignment. On Saturday, Pence removed himself from a scheduled joint appearance with Trump, reportedly saying that he didn't feel it was right for him to act as a "human shield" for the Republican nominee and his leaked comments. Pence, who denounced Trump's comments, also went light on helping Trump prepare for the second presidential debate. Politico reports that he only gave "advice on the side."
The running mate finally tweeted after the debate had ended, congratulating Trump on "a big debate win!" Potentially wanting to quench fears of him dropping from the ticket, he added: "Proud to stand with you as we #MAGA." (Ugh, that hashtag.)
But does Pence's silence on Twitter during the debate itself confirm suspicions of the two's distancing? Not completely, but it certainly isn't a good look.
Perhaps he wanted to see if Trump would be capable of damage control following the last 48 hours or if his campaign would self-destruct, as many in the GOP predicted. Despite the fact that Trump made an awkward pivot to ISIS when asked about the leaked tape, it was evidently enough for Pence to break his social media silence (for now, at least).
But Pence (and his social media team) will have to do more to keep those fears (or hopes) of taking himself off of the ticket at bay. Bets on that Pence will be tweeting up a storm during the next presidential debate — Gotta keep The Donald happy.