Trump, Twitter Fingers Flying, Exclaims. Pence, Note Cards in Hand, Explains.

Trump, Twitter Fingers Flying, Exclaims. Pence, Note Cards in Hand, Explains.

LIMA, Peru — As President Trump was tweeting “Mission Accomplished!” on Saturday morning after the strikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, Vice President Mike Pence was tackling what has become a familiar task: translating his boss’s outbursts into carefully honed language that could reassure world leaders and the public. The strike had “degraded and crippled” Syria’s chemical weapons capability, he said, and the president was prepared to act again — with military force if necessary — to ensure that the government would not use them in the future. The vice president would repeat some version of those lines — with only slight variation — several more times throughout the day, as he took meeting upon meeting with leaders at the summit gathering, once again playing emissary and explainer of Mr. Trump to foreign leaders who view him warily. Mr. Pence’s very presence at the Summit of the Americas this weekend was just such an effort: Mr. Trump had abruptly withdrawn from plans to attend, citing the run-up to the military strike in Syria. But the cancellation came as Mr. Trump was also consumed by personal and political drama, and it was the first time a United States president had avoided the summit meeting, which occurs every three years, in its 24-year history. Mr. Pence has increasingly stepped in overseas for a president who appears not to relish international travel. The vice president hailed the military action in Syria and denounced the crisis in Venezuela that has led to a humanitarian catastrophe there, calling upon the assembled nations to support tough measures against the governments of both countries. In a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, the vice president said, he steered clear of talking about funding for the border wall that Mr. Trump has long demanded Mexico pay for. Mr. Pence’s presence as a stand-in for Mr. Trump may have undercut the United States’ goals at the summit meeting, taking some of the sting out of the fact that President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela had been disinvited and raising questions about the United States’ commitment to the region. “A lot of leaders probably were preparing two sets of remarks: one if Trump behaves himself, to focus on the issues, and one for if he misbehaves and says something offensive,” Mr. Feinberg said.

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Vice President Mike Pence at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, on Saturday. He stepped in for President Trump at the summit meeting, an increasingly common role for Mr. Pence as the president appears not to relish international travel.

LIMA, Peru — As President Trump was tweeting “Mission Accomplished!” on Saturday morning after the strikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, Vice President Mike Pence was tackling what has become a familiar task: translating his boss’s outbursts into carefully honed language that could reassure world leaders and the public.

“President Trump made it clear that the United States will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against men, women and children,” Mr. Pence said before a meeting here with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada on the sidelines of a summit meeting of Western Hemisphere nations.

The strike had “degraded and crippled” Syria’s chemical weapons capability, he said, and the president was prepared to act again — with military force if necessary — to ensure that the government would not use them in the future.

The vice president would repeat some version of those lines — with only slight variation — several more times throughout the day, as he took meeting upon meeting with leaders at the summit gathering, once again playing emissary and explainer of Mr. Trump to foreign leaders who view him warily.

It was the latest instance of Mr. Pence — as earnest, conventional and on-message a politician as Mr. Trump is irreverent, unorthodox and unscripted — working to smooth the rough edges of a president who routinely draws controversy.

Mr. Pence’s very presence at the Summit of the Americas this weekend was just such an effort: Mr. Trump had abruptly withdrawn from plans to attend, citing the run-up to the military strike in Syria. But the cancellation came as Mr. Trump was also consumed by personal and political drama, and it was the first time a United States president had avoided the summit meeting, which occurs every three years, in its 24-year history.

Mr. Pence has increasingly stepped in overseas for a president who appears not to relish international travel. This was his third foreign trip and his sixth country so far this year — after multicountry swings through the Middle East and Asia — while the president has made a sole trip outside the United States in 2018, to Davos, Switzerland.

“It would not be surprising to see Pence taking a larger international role in advocating Trump administration foreign policies on the international stage,” John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, wrote in an op-ed in January. Mr. Bolton said Mr. Pence had proved “adept at navigating the complexities of Middle Eastern politics,” and provided a “reassuring contrast” to partisan bickering at home.

In Lima, armed with a thick binder of briefing materials, Mr. Pence delivered meticulously scripted statements…

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