- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2016

CLEVELAND — Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said Thursday he has “every confidence” Donald Trump will ensure the U.S. stands with allies and lives up to treaty obligations, after a report was published on Wednesday in which Mr. Trump was quoted as saying support for NATO allies could be conditional.

“I’m very confident that Donald Trump will stand by our allies and stop apologizing to our enemies,” Mr. Pence said on “Fox and Friends.”

Mr. Pence said he hadn’t seen the exact context of Mr. Trump’s comments, but he said Mr. Trump’s broader position is that it’s time for U.S. allies in treaty obligations and NATO to start paying their fair share — a point Mr. Trump has made before.

“Now all of us, with the aggressive actions by Russia in recent years, are disappointed and frustrated with this administration,” Mr. Pence said. “What I hear in that comment and what I’ve heard from Donald Trump in our conversations is we’re going to stand strongly for our allies.”

“But at the same time, we’re going to begin to say to our allies around the world that the time has come for them and for their citizens to begin to carry the financial cost of these international obligations,” he said.

Asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved small Baltic States that are recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us,” according to the New York Times.

“If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes,” Mr. Trump reportedly said.

Asked what he would do if Russia came over the the border into Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, Mr. Trump said he didn’t want to say because he doesn’t want Russian President Vladimir Putin to know what he would do, according to a transcript of the interview.

“Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make,” Mr. Trump said, according to the transcript. “That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.”

“The NATO alliance, since World War II, has been a mutual defense alliance, and I have every confidence that Donald Trump will see to it that the United States of America stands by our allies and lives up to our treaty obligations,” Mr. Pence said Thursday.

“But that being said, I think he makes he makes an enormously important point that I think resonates with millions of Americans that at a time where we have $19 trillion in national debt, that we need to begin to look to our allies around the world to step up and pay their fair share,” he said.

Eric Trump, meanwhile, on Thursday said his father “absolutely” believes in NATO.

“I think his message is the fact that every country that’s part of NATO should pay their own weight,” Eric Trump said on “CBS This Morning.”

“Right now we subsidize the vast majority of NATO. How is that fair?” he said. “You have countries that are part of NATO who don’t in pay anything — they pay in very, very little.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign quickly jumped on Mr. Trump’s reported comments, with senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan saying former President Reagan and former President Truman would be “ashamed.”

“Republicans, Democrats and Independents who help build NATO into the most successful military alliance in history would all come to the same conclusion: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit and fundamentally ill-prepared to be our Commander in Chief,” Mr. Sullivan said.

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