WASHINGTON ― Following President Donald Trump’s primetime address on Monday, which provided little substance on U.S. strategy in a nearly 16-year war in Afghanistan, White House officials went on TV to give full-throated endorsements of Trump briefly staying on message and reading from a teleprompter.
“What the American people saw last night was a commander in chief addressing the nation, addressing our troops, and really, addressing the world, with American resolve,” a beaming Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday on “Fox and Friends,” a Trump-friendly program that the president himself frequently watches.
Pence was asked about his “favorite moments” from Trump’s speech and repeatedly expressed pride in the president’s “confidence” and “the way he went about this decision, and the way he squared his shoulders.”
“I couldn’t be more proud to have seen the way this president went about this decision. He asked all the hard questions. He demanded answers,” Pence said. “Couldn’t make me more proud.”
Pence echoed the vague platitudes that the president made in his speech, insisting that the U.S. is “in Afghanistan to win” — although, like his boss, Pence did not elaborate on what victory would entail.
“I’m just very proud of the leadership of President Donald Trump as commander in chief,” Pence said.
On CNN, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley praised Trump’s “strong speech” and ability to change his mind.
Host Chris Cuomo pointed out that Trump’s announcement of a troop increase in Afghanistan marked a departure from his previous view that the U.S. should seek a military withdrawal.
“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said during his address on Monday night.
“That really shows the signs of a president,” Haley said, after noting that Trump had “listened to his generals” and “asked all the right questions.”
But that may change when Trump takes the stage at a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night. Speaking to his base on immigration, one of his signature campaign issues, will likely bring out Trump in his default state: free-wheeling and off-the-rails, not scripted and following a teleprompter.