WASHINGTON ― When Mike Pence was asked Tuesday night why he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin would respect a Trump administration, the Indiana governor answered with one coded word: “strength.”
Pence said he and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump would rebuild the military, and he sounded unconcerned by Russian threats. “America is stronger than Russia,” Pence said.
Throughout the debate, Pence referred to the “strength” of the GOP ticket. And when Pence was asked about protecting Syria from mass casualties, his answer transformed into a response about the military.
“We have got to lean into this with strong, broad-shouldered American leadership that begins by rebuilding our military,” Pence said.
Shortly after, Trump retweeted an image ― first posted by @TeamTrump ― that referenced the “strong, broad-shouldered” leadership of Trump and Pence.
Pence has repeatedly used the phrase “broad-shouldered,” seemingly as a stand-in to say that America needs men in the White House.
When Pence said on CNN that “Donald Trump’s got broad shoulders,” CNN correspondent Dana Bash asked Pence if he was making a comment about masculinity.
Pence denied the suggestion, but it’s a point he keeps coming back to. And if he knows that people are questioning whether the term is meant to remind voters that Hillary Clinton is a woman, why does he keep using it?
Pence and Trump must see some advantage to connecting their capability to handle national security threats with their masculinity, otherwise surely he would refrain from making the same clichéd argument every time he wants to emphasize security.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.