Indiana governor and Republican vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence, asked evangelical Christians at Liberty University's Convocation on Wednesday to forgive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after Friday's release of a 2005 recording in which Trump is heard, in graphic terms, discussing women and his attempts to grope them. Some people took Trump's comments as proof of sexual assault because he referenced uninvited, random physical advances on women.
"As Christians we are called to forgive, even as we've been forgiven," Pence said during a speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., according to USA Today.
"Last Sunday night, my running mate showed humility. He showed what was in his heart to the American people."
At the debate, Trump said he was "not proud" of the controversial comments. "I apologize to my family, I apologized to the American people," the GOP nominee said. However, while explaining he was "embarrassed" by the episode surfacing, he also dismissed the remarks, as "locker room talk" - a characterization that's drawn criticism from many as minimizing the content and disrespectful behavior shown on the tape.
On Saturday, the day after the recording was public, Pence issued a statement on the Trump tape saying that he could "not condone his remarks and cannot defend them." Pence had been scheduled to fill in for Trump at a weekend event in Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan, after the speaker disinvited Trump, but the governor decided not to go.
As the controversy grew, many Republican officeholders withdrew their support of Trump, with some calling on him to end his White House bid.
Pence apparently is supporting Trump even after one exchange during the debate when Trump openly disagreed with his running mate on Syria.
During Wednesday's speech at Liberty's campus, Pence praised Trump, saying the GOP presidential nominee is someone who "never quits" and "literally embodies the spirit of America."
Liberty President Jerry Falwell said he has been impressed with Pence, and recently spoke with him at the vice presidential debate.
"In this time of condescension and, at times, overt hostility to people of faith, we fall into the temptation to recoil and retreat," Pence told Liberty attendees. "But the stakes are too high."
He spotlighted to students he thought this is "a time for faith" and "a time for action."
"If we were perfect, we wouldn't need Jesus," Pence said. "But we are far from perfect. We do need Him. But God's love eclipses our failings, and, as always, renewed the strength of so many in this nation."