Pence: Trump has shifted away from complete Muslim ban



WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Donald Trump has backed away from a total ban on Muslims entering the United States, vice presidential running mate Mike Pence said on Thursday, a shift from one of the Republican presidential candidate's most provocative proposals.

Trump's call last December for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" followed an Islamic State-inspired mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by a husband-and-wife team.

SEE ALSO: Mike Pence: Donald Trump won the VP debate

Critics have called the proposed ban discriminatory and probably a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion, and Democrats have used Trump's policy to declare him a bigot.

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Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the campaign trail since the RNC
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Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the campaign trail since the RNC
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for a rally at Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville, North Carolina on September 20, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
ESTERO, FL - SEPTEMBER 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena on September 19, 2016 in Estero, Florida. Trump is locked in a tight race against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Florida as the November 8th election nears. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the JetCenters of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Colorado on September 17, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0534 -- Pictured: (l-r) Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on September 15, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Bethel United Methedoist Church on September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: U.S. Republican vice presidental nominee Gov. Mike Pence addresses a news conference with House GOP leaders following a conference at Republican headquaters on Capitol Hill September 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. When asked about former vice presidential candidate Speaker Paul Ryan's reluctance to endorse presidential candidate Donald Trump, Pence said that the House Republicans and the campaign agree on a plan for America. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, greets attendees after speaking at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Any path Trump might take to the presidency inevitably leads through the Rust Belt and industrial Midwest the places the Republican nominee describes as 'rusting and rotting' war zones of manufacturing decline. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: (L-R) Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and Executive Managing Director, North America for BGC, Daniel LaVecchia attend Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
AKRON, OH - AUGUST 22: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters at the James A. Rhodes Arena on August 22, 2016 in Akron, Ohio. Trump currently trails Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Ohio, a state which is critical to his election bid. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
FREDERICKSBURG, VA - AUGUST 20: GOP nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, VA on August 20, 2016 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)
US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters at the Summit Sports and Ice Complex on August 19, 2016 in Diamondale, Michigan. / AFP / JEFF KOWALSKY (Photo credit should read JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, pauses while speaking during a campaign rally at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Two days after Trump said that President Barack Obama had founded Islamic State, and a day after he insisted that he meant what he said, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself on Friday and claimed the statement was nothing more than sarcasm. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign rally at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Two days after Trump said that President Barack Obama had founded Islamic State, and a day after he insisted that he meant what he said, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself on Friday and claimed the statement was nothing more than sarcasm. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SUNRISE, FL - AUGUST 10: Republican presidential candidate Donald J.Trump addresses the audience during a campaign event at BB&T Center on August 10th, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Johnny Louis/WireImage)
WILMINGTON, NC - AUGUST 9: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with supporters during a campaign event at Trask Coliseum on August 9, 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. This was TrumpÃs first visit to Southeastern North Carolina since he entered the presidential race. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, is seen on a monitor speaking during an event to discuss his economic plans at the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. Trump is promising the biggest overhaul to the personal income-tax code since Ronald Reagan, as well as a deep cut in the corporate tax rate. He's also pledging to end excessive regulation and lift restrictions on the nation's energy producers. Photographer: Sean Proctor/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORTLAND, ME - AUGUST 4: Presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Maine Gov. Paul LePage being introduced at a rally in Merrill Auditorium on Thursday, August 4, 2016. (Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - JULY 29: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump waves to supporters after his speech at the Gallogly Event Center on the campus of the University of Colorado on July 29, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Mahoney/Getty Images)
SCRANTON, PA - JULY 27: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters on July 27, 2016 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Trump spoke at the Lackawanna College Student Union Gymnasium. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
DORAL, FL - JULY 27: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a press conference at Trump National Doral on July 27, 2016 in Doral, Florida. Trump spoke about the Democratic Convention and called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's deleted e-mails. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, waves to the crowd after addressing the 117th annual VFW National Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 26: Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks on at the 117th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States as veterans strive for a photo at the Charlotte Convention Center on July 26, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. One day after Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faced the same group, Trump promised a revision to health care for veterans. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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In recent months, Trump has said he would suspend immigration from countries where Islamist militants are active but has left vague as to whether this amounted to a narrowing or an expansion of his original policy position.

Pence said in a round of television interviews that if elected on Nov. 8, Trump would suspend immigration from "countries that have been compromised by terrorism."

More on the debate

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Vice presidential debate
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Vice presidential debate
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence shake hands as they arrive for their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) shakes hands with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at the start of their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Debate moderator Elaine Quijano arrives on the debate stage at the start of the debate between Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Debate moderator Elaine Quijano (L) looks on as Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine shakes hands with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (R) at the start of their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Debate moderator Elaine Quijano (R) looks on as Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) shakes hands with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at the start of their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence discuss an issue during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (L) listens as Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine speaks and moderator Elaine Quijano (C) looks on during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine discusses an issue with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (off camera) during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Rev. Jesse Jackson listens during the debate between Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine speaks during his debate against Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (not shown) at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine debate Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (R) during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Gombert/Pool
The audience watch the U.S. vice presidential debate between Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine speaks as Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (C) and debate moderator Elaine Quijano (R) look on during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence discuss an issue during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (L) speaks as Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine and debate as moderator Elaine Quijano (C) look on during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (C) speaks during his debate aginst Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence moderated by Elaine Quijano (L) at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Gombert/Pool
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) listens as Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence speaks during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Gombert/Pool
Democratic candidate for Vice President Tim Kaine gestures during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia on October 4, 2016. / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence discuss an issue during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Gombert/Pool
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) shakes hands with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at the start of their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine speaks during his debate against Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence, moderated by Elaine Quijano at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence speaks as Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine and moderator Elaine Quijano (C) look on during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine discusses an issue with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (off camera) during their vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine (L) and Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence (C) debate during their vice presidential debate moderated by Elaine Quijano (R) at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence greets his wife Karen Pence after the conclusion of the debate with Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (C) and his wife Anne Holton (R) greet a guest in the audience at the conclusion of the debate with Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Anne Holton (R), the wife of Democratic candidate for Vice President Tim Kaine greets her husband after the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia on October 4, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Anne Holton (L), wife of Democratic U.S. vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine shakes hands with Karen Pence (R), wife of Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence at the start of the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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Asked if this amounted to a ban on Muslims, Pence said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show: "Of course not."

On CNN's "New Day," Pence was asked why, given that he had been against the ban before becoming Trump's running mate, he was not opposing it now.

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Backlash faced by Muslims in US
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Backlash faced by Muslims in US
Egyptian-American community activist Rana Abdelhamid (L) demonstrates a move during a self-defense workshop designed for Muslim women in Washington, DC, March 4, 2016 in this handout photo provided by Rawan Elbaba. Picture taken March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Rawan Elbaba/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Young Muslims protest U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump before being escorted out during a campaign rally in the Kansas Republican Caucus at the Century II Convention and Entertainment Center in Wichita, Kansas March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Dave Kaup TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A Muslim man prays while people shout slogans against U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outside of his office in Manhattan, New York, December 20, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Janice Tufte of Seattle, a Muslim, participates in a pro-refugee protest organized by Americans for Refugees and Immigrants in Seattle, Washington November 28, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Redmond
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - MARCH 09: A poster, reads 'Muslims! They invented coffee, the toothbrush, and algebra... Oh wait, sorry about the algebra. That's a year of class you'll never get back', is being displayed at a subway station under 77th Street, New York, NY, USA on March 09, 2016. Varied posters giving right information about Muslims and inform people against Islamophobia, prepared by Muslim comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, are being displayed at 144 subway stations of subway system in New York City within a project with 20,000 US Dollars cost. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2016/01/18: Bay Ridge residents march along Ft Hamilton Parkway in support of the Muslim community. Hundreds of Brooklyn residents gathered in Bay Ridge at the site of an alleged bias attack for a march entitled 'Muslims Our Neighbors' in support of Bay Ridge's Islamic community. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MIDTOWN MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/12/20: Several hundred demonstrators rallied outside of Trump Tower at East 56th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to condemn Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump's position on immigration rights; after rallying for nearly two hours, demonstrators marched to Herald Square. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A group of Muslims pray before a rally in front of Trump Tower December 20, 2015 in New York. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump proposed a call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10, 2015: Fire and hazmat crews arrive on the scene to investigate a suspicious letter delivered to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on December 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. CAIR is the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, with offices two blocks from the U.S. Capitol building. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/12/09: Hand-lettered Love Your Muslim Neighbor sign held aloft. City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito led an interfaith rally of political leaders and clergy on the steps of city hall to denounce Republican candidate Donald Trump's call to ban Muslim entry into the US. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SAN BERNARDINO, Dec. 6, 2015-- Local Muslim residents attend a gathering to mourn victims who were killed in the recent deadly shooting incident in Islamic Community Center in Loma Linda, San Bernardino, California, United States, Dec. 6, 2015. (Xinhua/Yang Lei via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC DECEMBER 2: Ibrahim Hashi, a Muslim veteran of the United States military, is pictured in his American University dorm room, where a Marine Corp flag hangs on his living room wall, on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, in Washington, DC. Since leaving the Marines as a corporal in 2011, Hashi has heard more anti-Muslim rhetoric than ever. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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"Well, because it's not Donald Trump's position now," replied Pence. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)

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