While many argue that with all the bickering and cross-talk, nobody won last night’s vice-presidential debate, others are saying there was one thing that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) did excel at: gaslighting.
Denying that you didn’t sign the most restrictive abortion legislation in the nation, or that your running mate didn’t call Mexicans rapists, probably isn’t the worst move if you’re trying to appear fairly moderate on a presidential ticket that has come under fire for sexism, racism, and anti-LGBT rhetoric.
However, the internet wasn’t buying Pence’s flat-out denying of the facts.
Stop gaslighting us you sack of s**t, Pence. WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO RECORD WORDS NOW. #VPDebate
— Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson) October 5, 2016
Everyone spins, and deflects and misdirects in politics.But the gaslighting, bad Jedi-mind-trick shtick of the Trump campaign is astonishing
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) September 29, 2016
If someone asks what gaslighting is, tell them to turn on the #VPDebate and listen to Mike Pence lie through his teeth.
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) October 5, 2016
Throughout the debate, whenever Kaine brought up actual truths—that Trump called women “slobs, pigs, dogs, and disgusting,” that Trump had buddied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that Donald Trump wanted to institute a “deportation force”—Pence either denied it or accused Kaine of “insulting” the Republican ticket by insinuating such things. For example, on the issue of abortion, Pence straight-up disclaimed that his legislation—which once forced women to hold burials for their aborted fetuses—harshly punished women. “Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy,” he said. This is despite Trump announcing a Pro-Life Coalition last month that would enforce just that.
Hillary Clinton, for her part, tweeted several videos this morning pointing out Pence’s lies and denial of anything Trump had ever said.
Mike Pence: a divisive, anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-worker extremist.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 4, 2016
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 5, 2016
Whether Trump-Pence supporters noticed the gaslighting and lies—or even if that would change their opinions of the candidates—remains to be seen, as many note vice presidential debates don’t have much impact on the actual election. But if the election doesn’t swing in their favor, ProPublica journalist Alec MacGillis notes that Pence’s tactics could inspire the Republican Party’s next move.
Pence is giving the country a very good preview of how the Republican Party is going to move beyond Trump. Just pretend he never happened.
— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) October 5, 2016