During the second presidential debate Donald Trump said he disagrees with his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, on Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict.
The city of Aleppo is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. The area is a rebel stronghold that is being bombed by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in cooperation with Russia.
ABC News reporter Marta Raddatz, who served as one of the moderators at the debate, reminded Trump of what Pence said during the vice presidential debate.
“He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength,” she said, “and that if Russia continues to be involved in airstrikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”
Trump surprised viewers with an unexpected response—one that became the top tweeted moment of the night.
“He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree,” Trump said. “You have to knock out ISIS.”
He continued on to say his goal is to eliminate ISIS any way possible and with the help of any country that could help.
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN that the two candidates were speaking about different topics, and that’s why their answers did not match. Pence’s answer Tuesday was about the humanitarian crisis, while Trump touched on military action, she said.
Pence did not immediately respond to the disagreement, but he did take to Twitter to congratulate Trump, writing “big debate win! Proud to stand with you."
Tony Samuels, vice chairman of Trump’s Indiana campaign, also reacted to Trump’s comment, calling it Trump’s job to make the final decision regarding the crisis in Syria, not Pence’s.
“In situations where the presidential nominee and the vice presidential nominee disagree, the presidential nominee, because he is at the top of the ticket, would be the final decision on how to address that issue,” Samuels said. “They would have to work it out and maybe they would come to agreement.”
Hillary Clinton addressed the same question, but took a different approach.
“I would not use American ground forces in Syria,” she said. “That would be a very serious mistake.”
Trump and Clinton are scheduled to go head to head Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada for the last debate prior to Election Day.