Specifically, Pence said Trump has the “vision, energy, and can-do spirit” that Roosevelt had.
“In President Donald Trump, I think the United States once again has a president whose vision, energy and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt. Then, as now, we have a builder of boundless optimism, who seeks to usher in a new era of shared prosperity all across this new world.”
This comparison might seem deeply flawed, but it is pretty spot-on in some ways.
Take both presidents’ records on race, for example. Trump spent the weekend facing criticism for saying there was violence “on both sides” of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead. He doubled down on those comments in the following days, suggesting that there were “very fine people” among protesters marching with torches and neo-Nazi regalia, and lamented a growing movement to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces.
History has not looked kindly on Roosevelt’s racist statements. He referred to white Americans as the “forward race,” and believed that it was white people’s “responsibility to raise the status of minorities through training the backward race[s] in industrial efficiency, political capacity and domestic morality.”
One way these two are not alike? Roosevelt is considered by some to be a “war hero” for his role in the Spanish-American War. Trump, in contrast, had five military deferments during the Vietnam War ― but he still has strong opinions on those who have served. He’s also happy to take credit for the Panama Canal, constructed partly during Roosevelt’s presidency.