Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Thursday offered rare praise for Hillary Clinton, saying both the Democratic presidential nominee and Donald Trump have "many admirable qualities" for young people to look up to.
The modest compliment, what passes for civility in this rough-and-tumble campaign, came as Pence fielded a question that tripped up another Republican earlier in the week: Is Donald Trump a role model for children?
"I frankly think both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have many admirable qualities that young people can look up to," Pence said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte made news this week by initially answering yes, but then issuing a statement hours later changing her answer to no.
Pence, the Indiana governor and former congressman praised the Republican businessman's resilience and called him a "strong leader." He then quickly added a nod to the opposition: "And I want to recognize Hillary Clinton as the first woman to be major party nominee in American history," he said.
Pence's softer tone comes as the candidates are increasingly turning their attention to Hurricane Matthew and its potential implications for the campaign. With thousands of people already checked into shelters and evacuations underway, the storm is poised to shift the candidate's schedules, messages and possibly the early vote efforts in the swing state.
Vote-by-mail ballots are being sent to Florida voters across the state this week, potentially arriving at the same time as the storm. So far, a record 2.5 million people — or nearly one third of those who voted in 2012 — have made requests for the early ballots.
Still, officials were hoping that any disruption to voting would be less severe than what occurred with Superstorm Sandy, which struck New Jersey and New York in the week before the 2012 presidential election and kept many voters away from the polls. At least half of Florida voters typically cast ballots early either by mail or in person, compared with just a fraction in New York and New Jersey, giving them wider options to vote either before or on Nov. 8. Early in-person voting in Florida doesn't begin until Oct. 24.
On Thursday, both candidates continued to prepare for their second debate, a town hall-style face-off on Sunday. Trump was slated to hold a town hall in Sandown, New Hampshire, an event that will serve as a dry run. Clinton was due to hold fundraisers in New York.
Their vice presidential picks meanwhile continued to rehash their debate Tuesday night. In an interview on CNN, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine accused Pence of dodging instead of defending when confronted with Trump's comments, insults or policy proposals. He said Clinton had thanked him for "prosecuting the case against Donald Trump."