Image Mike Pence - Tim Kaine VP Debate

Pence – Kaine VP Debate Produces (Few) Big Moments

Lima Charlie News Political Correspondent Dan Webb reports on the Pence-Kaine VP Debate and whether it was eventful.

The first and only vice presidential debate of 2016 was held Tuesday night in Farmville, Virginia between Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Governor Mike Pence (R-IN). The two candidates experienced a rare moment in the prime time spotlight, as attention momentarily shifted from the presidential contenders at the top of each party’s ticket. The debate represented a critical chance for each candidate to convince voters why they should be chosen to serve as Vice President, and to assume the presidency if necessary. The contest held extra importance in introducing the candidates to voters, considering more than 40% of Americans don’t know who the vice presidential candidates are.

The roughly 90 minute debate, moderated by CBS News reporter Elaine Quijano, was shown on all major television networks, as well as through online streaming options. Estimates before the debate were that perhaps more than 50 million viewers would tune in, although it is unclear if viewership rivaled the 70 million who watched the 2012 vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

Mr. Kaine and Mr. Pence debated solutions to issues on foreign and domestic policy as well as criticism of the candidates who lead their tickets. While both candidates began the debate cordially, Senator Kaine quickly pivoted and went on the offensive, interrupting frequently throughout the event, forcing the governor to defend comments made by Donald Trump. Kaine tested Pence’s preparation early and often, repeating Trump’s quotes that Mexicans are “criminals and rapists.” Kaine further attacked Pence on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Putin regime in Russia, and remarks Mr. Trump has made toward women.

Pence’s strategy of downplaying incendiary comments made by Mr. Trump was summed up when he remarked that those comments were the result of Trump not being a “polished politician” like Senator Kaine and Secretary Clinton. Kaine, arguing that Trump’s controversial statements should not be dismissed as a lack of polish, raised Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants several times, prompting Pence to recite the memorable line “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.” As expected, the line also inspired the trending hashtag #ThatMexicanThing.

Mr. Pence criticized the Clinton-Kaine ticket repeatedly as well, castigating Clinton’s use of a private email server as well as her judgment on foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. Mr. Pence also accused the Clinton team of running an “insult-driven campaign”, a characterization Mr. Kaine refuted.

Issues debated by the candidates included taxes and Mr. Trump’s decision not to release his tax returns, immigration, Obamacare, and Clinton Foundation vs. Trump Foundation comparisons. A very personal discussion was had on the issue of abortion, with Mr. Pence and Mr. Kaine, both devout Catholics, opposing the practice. Mr. Kaine, however, voiced his support for keeping the procedure legal and has earned a perfect voting record from Planned Parenthood.

The GOP declared Pence the winner before the debate even began in a blog post apparently published prematurely by the Republican National Convention. Post debate, the general media consensus appears to lean towards a Pence victory, with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews commenting that Mr. Pence “came across as a grown-up, strong, I thought he was very effective at being a conservative”. Matthews added, “Because Pence was solid, he looked like he had his head screwed on, and that’s going to look very important for Trump, who often doesn’t look like he has his head screwed on.” Post debate fact checking found, generally, that both candidates fudged some of their responses, with Pence being checked on his often denials of statements by Mr. Trump which were found to have been made.

Overall, the debate failed to provide any large-scale moments likely to define the remaining weeks of the presidential campaign. Over the next week, state by state polling will begin to reflect what, if any, effect the vice presidential debate will have on voters’ perceptions of the Democratic and Republican presidential choices.

The next presidential debate will occur on October 9th, 2016, and will be a town-hall format where candidates answer questions directly from voters. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz will moderate.

Lima Charlie News will record a special episode of The Horse Race podcast immediately following the presidential debate on October 9th.

For a condensed version of the debate, please enjoy Lima Charlie News’ “Best of Under 30.”

Dan Webb, Political Correspondent for Lima Charlie News

Dan Webb is a former U.S. Air Force Airborne Systems Engineer on the RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft. He completed three deployments to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom totaling over 1200 combat flight hours. He currently works as a software engineer for an Omaha based marketing agency. Previously he worked for the Office of Military and Veteran Services at the University of Nebraska Omaha where, as a student, he received his B.S. in Political Science with a minor in Economics. Dan’s interests include domestic economic policy, veteran’s issues, and national security.

Follow Dan on Twitter | @DanWebbLC 

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

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Be sure to listen to Dan Webb on the Horse Race podcast, available on iTunes.

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