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Mike Pence: Trump 'used the tax code just the way it's supposed to be used

"And he did it brilliantly."

Mike Pence, 2016 Republican vice presidential nominee, speaks during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine arrive at tonight's debate with three main assignments: defend their bosses from attack, try to land a few blows, and avoid any mistakes showing them unfit to be president. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence bunkered down and continuously defended GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's leaked 1995 tax returns during Tuesday night's lone vice presidential debate.

During the debate in Farmville, Virginia Tuesday night, Pence said Trump "faced some pretty tough times 20 years ago" and argued that the Manhattan businessman was smart for using the tax codes to his advantage.

Trump has faced scrutiny this week after the New York Times obtained a portion of his 1995 tax returns and discovered that due to a reported $916 million loss that year he could have legally avoided paying federal income taxes for almost two decades.

"We have a tax code that encourages entrepreneurship in this country," Pence said. "His tax returns showed that he went through a very difficult time, but he used the tax code just the way its supposed to be used, and he did it brilliantly."

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), hit Pence over the fact that Trump has so far refused to release his tax returns to the public — a promise that he made in February 2015.

Yet, Pence continued to argue that "Donald Trump has created tens of thousands of jobs" and contended that while a Clinton administration would raise taxes, he and Trump would cut them.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has analyzed both Clinton's and Trump's policy proposals and determined that Trump would increase the national debt by $5.3 trillion over 10 years. In comparison, Clinton would increase the debt by just $200 billion, the think tank found.

Follow Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@K_Schallhorn) on Twitter

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