Vice Presidential Debate: Where Each Candidate Excelled and Faltered

Hey! It’s two people we haven’t seen before debating each other!

Republican Vice Presidential nominee and running mate Mike Pence (L) speaking during the Midwest Vision and Values Pastors and Leadership Conference at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio on September 21, 2016, and US Democratic Nominee for Vice President Tim Kaine speaking during the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 27, 2016. After a dramatic week of beauty queens, sex tape allegations and tax document leaks, the upcoming US vice presidential debate could feel like a throwback to simpler times. Featuring low-key career politicians who are easily confused, the match-up between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence in Farmville, Virginia likely won't exude the reality show vibes Americans have come to expect in the 2016 presidential election.
Vice Presidential nominees Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine met in Farmville, Virginia.

Since late last year we’ve had to see the same people debating the same things. But on Tuesday, we were able to watch Sen. Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence discuss the issues.

It was a nice change of pace from having to listen to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for 90 minutes. So let’s take a look at how the two vice presidential candidates performed.

Tim Kaine

Where he faltered: Early on, Kaine had to go on the defense to defend Clinton’s state department record. That’s never a good sign. Kaine also continuously interrupted Pence, making him appear as Trump did in the first presidential debate with Clinton.

He also claimed that Clinton helped stop Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that Iran is allowed to keep its capability to enrich uranium, and restrictions on is program will are only in place for a set amount of time.

Kaine’s only way to defend Clinton’s mishandling of classified information was to say the FBI concluded “no reasonable prosecutor” would take the case. He couldn’t defend her actions by saying the FBI concluded she broke no laws.

“They did an investigation. They concluded there was no reasonable prosecutor who would take it further,” Kaine said. When that’s your best defense – instead of “she broke no laws” – that’s a problem.

Where he excelled: Kaine got in some good jabs about Trump not paying taxes, suggesting that Trump’s not paying taxes ended up hurting the troops and veterans.

Kaine also had an effective screed against Trump’s foreign policy statements.

“He trash talks the military: John McCain is no hero, the generals need to be fired, I know more than them. He wants to end alliances: NATO is obsolete and third, he loves dictators. He has a personal Mount Rushmore of Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Saddam Hussein,” Kaine said. “He believes, Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, and corporate jet should get them. When he was confronted with this, and told — and Korea should get them.”

All Pence could say in response was: “That had a lot of creative lines in it.” He then ignored the points about Trump and focused on Clinton (which might look bad in the eyes of the media, but was a good strategy for Pence to keep the focus on Clinton).

Mike Pence

Where he faltered: Pence’s calm demeanor allowed Kaine to interrupt him constantly. Pence was also unable numerous times to defend Trump’s statements about illegal immigrants and women, as Kaine kept repeating those statements. He also might have given Democrats fodder for a good attack ad by repeatedly trying to claim Trump didn’t say things he actually said.

Where he excelled: Pence came across as the calm, cool and collected of the two candidates. As Kaine interrupted him again and again, Pence didn’t show irritation. It was both a strength and a weakness.

Pence also had a good response for Democrats seizing on tragedies to demean law enforcement.

“Hillary Clinton actually referred to that moment as an example of implicit bias in the police force, where she was asked a week ago, whether there was implicit bias in law enforcement, should correctly answer was that there is implicit bias and everyone in the United States I just think what we ought to do is stop seizing on these moments of tragedy,” Pence said. “We assure the public we have a full and complete and transparent investigation whenever there is a loss of life because of police action, but Senator, please, enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement probably by making accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.”

Pence, unlike most Republicans, was also able to knock Democrats over abortion in a way that should resonate with the vast majority of the American public: late-term abortion.

“At the very idea that a child almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them, I cannot in conscience [understand] a party that supports that,” Pence said. “I know you have historically opposed taxpayer funding for abortion, but Hillary Clinton wants to repeal the long-standing provision when we said we would not use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. For me, my faith informs my life. For me, it all begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of all human life.”

Vice Presidential Debate: Where Each Candidate Excelled and Faltered