Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence has emerged after a weekend out of the public eye to reaffirm his relationship with under-fire running mate Donald Trump.
After cancelling a weekend campaign appearance and leaving Mr Trump alone to deal with the backlash from a video of sexually predatory remarks, Mr Pence was campaigning again and praising Mr Trump’s performance in Sunday’s debate with Hillary Clinton.
But even as Mr Pence struggled to clean up a disagreement with Mr Trump on Syria, the Indiana governor – a devout Christian – tried to put Mr Trump’s obscene remarks about women behind him.
He noted that Mr Trump had apologised, adding: “We all fall short of the glory of God. I believe in forgiveness.”
Speaking during a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mr Pence was referring to the Friday afternoon publication by the Washington Post of a story about a 2005 video in which Mr Trump is recorded bragging about groping women without their permission.
Mr Pence released a statement refusing to condone or defend his remarks, and urged Mr Trump to “show what is in his heart when he goes before the nation” during Sunday’s debate.
Mr Trump said at the beginning of the 90-minute showdown with his Democratic rival: “I apologise to my family. I apologise to the American people. Certainly, I’m not proud of it. But this is locker-room talk.”
The Republican candidate later warned his supporters to keep a close eye on the polls so the “election is not stolen from us”.
He told supporters at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, that he wanted every vote “counted 100%” on November 8, so the White House is “not taken away way from us”.
The celebrity businessman repeated his claim that the “system is rigged”, although repeated studies have shown there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud across the nation.
Meanwhile, Ms Clinton accused him of using Chinese steel in his construction projects.
She raised the charge while campaigning in Ohio, a rust belt state hit by the downturn of US manufacturing and fierce competition from overseas.
Ms Clinton said “for his talk of putting America first” Mr Trump does not support US industry with his products and projects, adding: “That kills jobs right in this state.”