Mike Pence Cancels NJ Fundraiser
GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence has called off a fundraising event in New Jersey on Monday, stoking concerns of a divide on the presidential ticket after the Indiana governor publicly denounced Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women.
Trump's running mate was originally slated to attend the Ocean County Republican Organization's event in Toms River, but later called off his appearance, local outlet NJ.com reported on Sunday night. The report cited several anonymous GOP sources who were said to not be directly affiliated with the Trump-Pence campaign.
A staffer for the campaign confirmed to Fortune via email that "the event was canceled last week." The staffer asked not to be identified.
The staffer did not provide the reason for the event's cancelation. Asked if it was called off before or after Friday's release of a controversial 2005 tape that showed Trump speaking in vulgar terms about women--comments that his running mate later said he could neither "condone" nor "defend"--the source responded, "it was canceled before Friday."
The staffer did not confirm whether Pence would be attending the two events at which he is now scheduled to appear in North Carolina on Monday, an afternoon town hall in Charlotte and an evening rally in Fletcher, according to the campaign website.
Pence's reshuffling comes as Republican leaders have increasingly abandoned their support of Trump in reaction to The Washington Post's release of a clip showing the presidential nominee talking about groping women and trying unsuccessfully to seduce a married woman. Politicians have since called on the presidential nominee to withdraw from the race, which Trump responded he would "never" do. He has apologized for the remarks.
Asked about the tape at Sunday's presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump said, "I'm very embarrassed by it. I hate it, but it's locker room talk."
"If you look at Bill Clinton--far worse," he added. "Mine are words and his was action."
Pence on Saturday did not attend the GOP rally he was scheduled to join with House Speaker Paul Ryan, fueling speculation of a deepening rift with his running mate.
On Sunday, the Indiana governor appeared to be seeking to quell those rumors, tweeting his support of Trump after the debate.
Meanwhile, pundits expressed concern and disbelief after Trump said he and Pence hadn't "spoken" about how to handle the humanitarian crisis in Syria, exacerbating questions of their alignment on key policy issues.