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Mike Pence: Trump ‘met Russian aggression with American strength’ when he faced off with Putin in Helsinki

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Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday praised President Donald Trump for projecting “American strength” during his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.

At an event in St. Louis on Thursday, Pence defended Trump against accusations that he kowtowed to the Russian president by publicly doubting the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

“President Trump even met earlier this week with the president of the Russian Federation,” Pence told the crowd. “Saying, in his words, that he would rather take a political hit in the pursuit of peace than risk peace in the pursuit of politics.”

“Make no mistake about it, President Trump and I support our great intelligence agencies and the courageous men and women who lead them,” the vice president insisted. “As the president said, we accept our intelligence community’s conclusions about the 2016 election. But after years of the failed reset of the last administration and capitulation to Russia, under President Trump, we’ve met Russian aggression with American strength and action!”

Pence pointed to Russian sanctions that the Congress forced Trump to implement as evidence of American strength. He also noted that the Trump administration had expelled Russian diplomats and was offering missile defense systems to NATO countries.

“President Donald Trump will always be willing to pursue peace,” Pence added. “But under his leadership, it will always be peace through strength. It’s about promises made and promises kept.”

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Listen to the audio of Pence’s speech below.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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Here are 4 winners and 9 losers from the first 2020 Democratic primary debate

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With ten candidates on stage Wednesday, the opening debate of the 2020 Democratic primary in Miami was a packed mess. And this was only the first course in a two-part event — 10 more candidates will debate on the following night.

A crowded field makes it difficult to stand out, and that means that even after a big night like a debate, the most likely result is that not much changes. But the debate was still significant, giving candidates the chance to exceed, meet, or fall below expectations for their performances.

Here's a list — necessarily subjective, of course — of the people who came out on the top when the dust was settled, and those who came out on the bottom.

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Here are 3 ways Julián Castro stood out in the first Democratic Debate

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There were many predictions going into the first Democratic debate on MSNBC, but no one predicted that Julián Castro would break out from the crowd.

Check out the top three ways Castro stood out from the crowd.

Immigration:

The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development was the outright winner of the immigration section of the debate

It should "piss us all off," Castro said about the father and his little girl who were found face-down in the shores of the Rio Grande River this week. “It’s heartbreaking."

Castro is a second generation American who got into specifics on immigration policy, calling for an outright "Marshall Plan" style of action for Guatemala and Honduras. He joined with other Democrats calling for an end to President Donald Trump's family separation policy, but he then suggested ending the "metering" of legitimate asylum seekers.

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