Mike Pence defended the remarks on illegal immigration that Donald Trump delivered last Wednesday | AP Photo

Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway deflect questions on Sunday morning shows.


Chuck Todd worked hard to nail down Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence on his running mate’s immigration plan, asking the Indiana governor more than 10 times during Sunday’s installment of NBC’s “Meet the Press” what would happen to undocumented immigrants who had not committed a crime in a Donald Trump administration.

But each time Todd asked a variation of the question, Pence demurred, pivoting as Trump often does to a pledge to remove undocumented immigrants with a criminal history first, build a wall and implement the rest of the Manhattan billionaire’s immigration proposals. Only then, Pence said, would Trump begin “working with the Congress to determine the best approach to that.”

The Indiana governor also defended the remarks on illegal immigration that Trump delivered last Wednesday, a fiery speech that even some Trump supporters said made them uncomfortable. In the speech, delivered in Phoenix on the same day that he visited Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump pledged to empower a new “deportation task force” to address the issue of undocumented immigrants living illegally in the U.S.

In subsequent interviews, the GOP nominee promised that there had been “quite a bit of softening” in the immigration policy he outlined in Phoenix, but the speech was enough to prompt multiple Hispanic Trump campaign surrogates to reconsider their support for the real estate mogul. The morning news shows on Sunday were filled with widespread discussion of Trump’s speech — in particular, efforts to pin down Trump surrogates as to just what he meant.

“With all due respect to the media’s focus on the 11 million [undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes in the U.S.] or whatever that number is, he was focused on the more than 300 million people who are citizens of this country and are here legally in this country, and driving policies in immigration that will work for them, work for the future of our nation,” Pence told Todd in an interview taped Saturday on the campus of Ohio State University.

In a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway similarly refused to offer a concrete answer to the question of what the Manhattan billionaire would do with undocumented immigrants who have not committed a crime since arriving in the U.S. She said without first addressing the other aspects of Trump’s plan, like building the wall and deporting criminals, it would be impossible to know what exactly the next steps should be.

“Once you enforce the law, once you get rid of the criminals, once you triple the number of ICE agents, once you secure the Southern border, once you turn off the jobs magnet, jobs and benefit magnet, then we’ll see where we are,” she said. “And we don’t know where we’ll be. We don’t know who will be left. We don’t know where they live, who they are. That’s the whole point here, that we’ve actually never tried this.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Trump was not committed to mass deportations. Citing an Associated Press report from last week, he said Trump’s immigration speech “leaves a very big opening for what will happen with the people who remain here in the United States after the criminals are removed and the border is secure.”

Without being specific to the particulars of the policy, Giuliani said Trump would not be inclined to throw out families that had been here a long time. “That is not the kind of America he wants,” Giuliani told Jake Tapper.

Speaking to Tapper shortly after the former New York mayor, Labor Secretary Tom Perez wasn’t buying Giuliani’s interpretation.

“Donald Trump,” said Perez, a Clinton supporter, “should have gone to the Olympics as a gymnast because there’s a lot of contortionism there.”

Perez noted that Trump was accompanied for his speech by Joe Arpaio, an Arizona sheriff who has made his reputation nationally for his anti-immigration stances. “If you’re trying to get kinder and gentler, it’s a curious strategy to have Joe Arpaio introduce you at a speech,” he said.

In a separate portion of the interview, taped at an Ohio State football tailgate event, Pence said he would consider unsealing his records from his tenure as a member of Congress. The Indiana governor said it was the first time he’d been asked to do so and said: “We’ll certainly look at it.”

“We’ll certainly look at it,” Pence said. “I truly do believe in the public’s right to know.”

David Cohen contributed to this report.