Former Vice President Mike Pence recently insisted that he was now "out of that business" of defending or explaining former President Donald Trump's controversial remarks when a CNN host pressed him repeatedly to do so, Newsweek reported.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins continuously demanded Pence weigh in on Trump's furiously critical comments aimed at recently retired Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who took thinly veiled swipes at Trump on his way out, and though Pence did denounce what his former boss had said about the general as "inexcusable," he nonetheless stopped short of agreeing with Milley's apparent characterization of Trump as a "wannabe dictator."
Gen. Milley formally stepped down from his role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last month and stated in his outgoing remarks, according to Newsweek, "We don't take an oath to a king or a queen or to a tyrant or a dictator. And we don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator."
There was little doubt that Milley was referencing former President Trump, with whom he clashed numerous times over the years, and Trump himself seemed to take the remarks personally, as he lashed out at that time with a Truth Social post that sharply critiqued Milley for the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and suggested he should be executed for treason for allegedly telling communist China that he would warn them in advance of a potential first-strike U.S. attack.
In a more recent post, Trump also bashed Milley as a "moron" who was "slow-moving and thinking" and, along with "woke fool" Mark Esper, the former Defense secretary, placed the nation in a "stupid and very dangerous" situation with his prior reported comments to a Chinese military counterpart.
On Friday, during an appearance on CNN, former VP Pence was asked incessantly by host Collins about nothing else except to address those and other recent controversial remarks from former President Trump throughout a nine-minute interview.
According to Mediaite, Pence pointed out that he didn't always agree with Gen. Milley's "woke politics" in the Pentagon but nevertheless praised him for his "long career of service" in the U.S. military, and said concerning the general's commentary about Trump, "I don’t know who he was referring to there, but I must tell you that Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding General Milley were inexcusable" and "unacceptable."
Collins noted it was "very clear" that Milley was talking about Trump and directly asked, "Do you agree that Donald Trump is a wannabe dictator?"
"Well, what I agree with is what General Milley said about the oath that men and women in uniform take," Pence replied, and added a moment later. "I can’t affirm or comment on what or who General Milley was referring to, but I can affirm his eloquent reference to the men and women who served in the uniform of the United States today and throughout the history of this country."
Despite numerous attempts by Pence to shift the conversation toward his presidential campaign and vision for America, Collins repeatedly brought it right back to Trump and various controversial comments he's made over the past week or two, to which an increasingly frustrated Pence would again denounce without specifics while unsuccessfully attempting to move the discussion forward to other topics.
At one point, asked if he viewed his former boss as a "threat" to the nation if he returned to the White House in light of his recent remarks, an exasperated Pence declared, "Look, I -- I spent four years trying to explain Donald Trump's words, and I'm out of that business now, Kaitlan."
Despite the repeated efforts of Pence to change the subject and talk about his campaign, Collins continued to focus solely on Trump for several more minutes, eventually prompting the former VP to snidely say, "Kaitlan, if I addressed everything Donald Trump said every day I'd talk about nothing else."
If any one thing was made clear by this interview, it is that the media remains obsessively fixated on every word uttered by former President Trump and will continue to try and hold other Republicans accountable for what was said, even to the extent of ignoring broad-based denouncements and insisting upon specific disavowals of particular comments.
As for former VP Pence, it is also clear that the media -- and the vast majority of Republican voters -- really don't care about his longshot presidential bid, as the RealClearPolitics average of GOP primary polls show that Pence is mired in fifth place among the also-rans with just 4% support while Trump is the undisputed frontrunner for another nomination with 56.5% support.