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Mike Pence Says Donald Trump Has ‘Can-Do Spirit’ Like Teddy Roosevelt

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Vice President Mike Pence compared his boss to Teddy Roosevelt during a visit to the Panama Canal Thursday, saying the two shared a “can-do spirit” at a time when Trump has been widely criticized for his response to the violent white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville.

“In President Donald Trump, I think the United States once again has a president whose vision, energy and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt,” Pence said, the Chicago Tribune reports. “Then, as now, we have a builder of boundless optimism, who seeks to usher in a new era of shared prosperity all across this new world.”

While Pence invoked some of the admirable presidential qualities Roosevelt was known for, Roosevelt also called whites “the forward race” and minorities “the backward race.” The latter is a fraught comparison as Trump is under fire for saying there was “blame on both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville and taking two days to explicitly condemn white supremacists.

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com