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Pence steps past Trump on Syria, underscoring differences

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ROSSFORD, Ohio — Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence has ventured beyond Donald Trump’s ambiguous posture toward war-torn Syria.

Trump has advocated a hands-off approach to dealing with Syrian President Bashar Assad and proposed so-called safe zones for civilians. But Pence says the U.S. military should be ready to strike Syrian military targets under Assad’s command.

The space between the candidates underscores Pence’s challenge as he attempts to champion an unusually vague presidential candidate who shows little interest in the intricacies of world affairs.

The differences also raise questions of whether other policy gaps between the two Republicans would exist in a Trump administration facing the tangle of adversaries and allies at the heart of the Syrian conflict. While Pence espouses traditional conservative viewpoints, Trump’s isolationist-tinged “American first” approach is harder to classify.