The Five Most Defining Moments of the Kaine-Pence VP Debate

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Never has the United States seen a powerhouse debate quite like…Senator Tim Kaine and Mike Pence–two people that most of the United States don’t really care about.

But that’s kind of the point–a big part of tonight’s debate was trying to get to know the two VP candidates, who have thus far been overshadowed by their significantly more famous ticket-mates. So here were the five most defining moments of tonight’s debate:

No One Played Nice…From the First Question

From almost the first moment of the debate, Kaine and Pence went after each other. The two started squabbling early, beginning with disagreements over Hillary Clinton’s record, and the way that her campaign has been run. Pence said: “Well, let me say first and foremost that, Senator, you and Hillary Clinton would know a lot about an insult-driven campaign. It really is remarkable.”

Just a few minutes later, Kaine went hard against Trump over the tax return issue, pointing out that by not paying his federal taxes, he’s not supporting the military. Pence tried to brush it off, but Kaine got some punches in too.

Put simply: these two VP candidates brought the fire, and we finally started to see a hint of their unique personalities.

Pence Put his Foot in his Mouth on Racism and Implicit Bias

Pence tried to give a compassionate answer about police shootings in the United States, and claimed that implicit bias isn’t really something we should be caring about. He said:

Donald Trump and I both believe that there’s been far too much of this talk of institutional bias or racism in law enforcement.

For a lot of people, that kind of broad-brushed, and frankly pretty inaccurate, claim sat very poorly with a lot of people:

Mike Pence Didn’t Talk that Much About Donald Trump

Mike Pence stayed away from talking a lot about his running mate, Donald Trump. Instead, Pence went on the offensive, going after Clinton and Kaine’s records, as well as President Barack Obama’s two terms in office.

That was probably a smart call. Mike Pence had a job to do tonight–look like the adult in the room. And by not trying to defend some of Trump’s more indefensible positions, he didn’t have to try to look like an adult purely at the expense of his running mate.

Tim Kaine Really Liked his Zingers…and the Tax Return Point

Whoever writes the one-liners and zingers for the Hillary Clinton campaign has perhaps been slacking a bit. Tim Kaine had some good jabs at Trump and Pence, but also had some that fell a little flat.

But for as many zingers as Tim Kaine tried to put out there, he also make a lot of comments about Trump’s tax returns. He brought almost every point back to it–and don’t get me wrong, it’s a powerful slam against Trump. But Kaine brought it up perhaps a few times too many, to the point where it became almost ineffective.

A Faith Question for Both Candidates

Kaine is a Catholic who has worked with Jesuit missionaries in South America; Pence is an Evangelical Christian who has long been a social conservative. A conversation about their faith led to a discussion on abortion, and it became one of the most substantive exchanges of the two debates so far.

This year’s election has been in some cases more about personal attacks than about the real ideological divides between the Democrats and the Republicans. While Kaine and Pence didn’t manage to totally avoid personal questions, some substance did shine through in tonight’s debate, and it was a welcome change.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.



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