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Mike Pence dismisses charge that Donald Trump was manipulated by Vladimir Putin

by Eun Kyung Kim /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence downplayed his running mate's recent self-inflicted wounds, insisting plenty of excitement and support remains for Donald Trump.

"It’s very early in this campaign still. The only poll that really matters is on Election Day," the Indiana governor said in an exclusive interview alongside his wife, Karen, and insisting: "We're seeing tremendous crowds, tremendous enthusiasm."

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Trump’s campaign has been trying to stem a publicity-poor week that began when the Republican presidential candidate continued his public feud with the parents of fallen Muslim-American soldier. Trump then refused to endorse fellow Republicans Sen. John McCain and Speaker Paul Ryan.

The miscues led to reports surfacing of internal strife within the Trump campaign and numerous polls showing the lead held by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton growing.

Pence has found himself playing peacemaker, trying to bridge the gap among divided Republicans. This week, former CIA director Michael Morrell, in a New York Times opinion piece, described Trump as an "unwitting agent of the Russian Federation" because of his defense of Vladimir Putin.

But Pence dismissed the charge.

"I supposes this is the same CIA that told the president that ISIS was the JV team," Pence said. "I mean, come on Savannah, these people are playing politics. And I get all of that."

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