- Mike Pence says Melania Trump told Donald Trump that the president should be more like his VP.
- Pence says the comment came after his 2020 vice presidential debate performance.
- "'Melania says I gotta be more like Mike,'" Pence says Trump told him, following the president's disastrous first debate.
Former Vice President Mike Pence says then-first lady Melania Trump had simple advice for President Donald Trump after his widely panned first presidential debate in 2020: Be Like Mike. No, not that Mike.
"'Melania says I gotta be more like Mike,'" Pence says Trump told him following the 2020 vice presidential debate. Pence recounts the conversation in his new book "So Help Me God" which was published Tuesday.
Trump's first debate performance was heavily criticized. Moderator and then Fox News anchor Chris Wallace struggled to keep Trump from interrupting the then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, creating so much cross-talk it was hard to follow what either candidate was saying. At one point, a clearly fed-up Biden famously told Trump, "Will you shut up, man? ... This is so unpresidential."
After the debate, Wallace told the New York Times, "I'm just sad with the way last night turned out."
As is tradition, the only vice presidential debate follows the first presidential debate. Pence and then-Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris' debate was a far more subdued affair, likely prompting Melania Trump's reported comment.
Pence went viral during the debate after a fly landed on his head. NBC's Saturday Night Live later used the moment as material for a cold open sketch. The now-former vice president takes the entire affair in stride. But Pence, who references his deeply held faith throughout the book, says when he finally meets God, he's gonna ask about the fly-by-the-night moment.
"... As I told my daughter Charlotte, someday in glory, after I thank God for all of my blessings, I intend to ask Him, 'The fly, was that really necessary?'"
Pence then describes Trump's second and final debate appearance as "more understated and effective." The originally scheduled third debate was canceled following Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and the inability of the two sides to agree on how to continue.
The publication of Pence's book comes at a critical time. The former vice president is giving "prayerful consideration" to his own presidential run. Meanwhile, Trump is widely expected to announce his comeback campaign during a rally at his Mar-a-Lago club Tuesday night.