Is Mike Pence OK with Donald Trump's bigoted remarks?

Story highlights

  • Dean Obeidallah says Pence needs to make clear whether he approves of Trump making racist and sexist remarks
  • Pence differed with Trump on initial Muslim immigration ban but now endorses modified plan

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Now that Donald Trump has made it official that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be his vice presidential candidate, the media needs to ask Pence one critically important question: "Why would you agree to be the running mate to a man who has spewed so much sexism, bigotry and racism?"

We are not talking about the typical scenario where a presidential and vice presidential candidate differ on a few policy issues. This is far different. Trump has waged a campaign, as Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center explained on my SiriusXM radio show this week, that arguably is the most hate-filled in modern day politics since pro-segregationist George Wallace's campaign in 1968.
    Even Republicans have criticized some of Trump's despicable rhetoric. Just last month, for example, House Speaker Paul Ryan dubbed Trump's demand that Judge Gonzalo Curiel step down from presiding over the Trump University fraud case because of his ethnic heritage "the textbook definition of a racist comment."
    Pence's decision to accept the nomination is even more stunning given that he had publicly criticized Trump's comments on Muslims and Mexicans during this campaign on two occasions. The first was in December after Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
    The next day Pence tweeted, "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional." (Trump has since tweaked his proposal to only ban Muslims from "terror countries," but apparently people of other faiths from those countries would be permitted to enter the United States. Pence stated Friday he was "very supportive" of this new immigration ban.)
    And after Trump repeatedly called Curiel a "Mexican" and demanded that he step down from presiding over the Trump University case, Pence declared that Trump's remarks about Curiel, who was born in Indiana, were inappropriate and that it was wrong "to question the partiality of the judge based on their ethnic background."
    Could it be that Pence's silence in response to Trump's other inflammatory remarks indicates he agrees with them? Or does Pence find them truly objectionable but he has checked his principles on the side in order to advance his own political career? We don't know. But it would certainly help the American people understand Pence's character and his belief system much more if he would let us know how he views Trump's past comments such as these:
    1. Does Pence object to Trump calling women "fat pigs" and "dogs" and even mocking Carly Fiorina's face? Is Pence OK with being demeaning to women?
    2. Trump claimed at his campaign launch last June that Mexico is sending "rapists" and "drug dealers." He even insisted that Mexicans are raping American women because, as Trump put it to CNN's Don Lemon, "Well, somebody's doing the raping, Don!"
    3. Is Pence on board with Trump vocally defending his supporters beating up protesters? The worst example came in November when Black Lives Matter protester Mercutio Southall interrupted Trump at a rally, causing the candidate to call out for his supporters to get him out of the venue. Six white Trump fans then punched and kicked Southall, reportedly calling him a "monkey" and the "N word." When asked about the incident the next day on Fox News, Trump remarked, "Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."
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    4. What about Trump mocking a disabled reporter because the reporter wouldn't confirm Trump's fairytale that "thousands" of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on 9/11? Will Pence make it clear that he opposes ridiculing the disabled?
    And the list goes on, with Trump retweeting various comments from white supremacist groups to recently defending his campaign tweeting out what appeared to most as an anti-Semitic image involving the Star of David over hundred-dollar bills in a tweet attacking Hillary Clinton.
    Is Pence, a self-proclaimed devout Christian, in the least bit troubled by any of this? Or has Trump found a running mate who, with only minor exceptions, sees eye to eye with him in spewing sexism, racism and bigotry? It's now time for Pence to let America know the answer to this question.