2016-10-13 / Views

Key moments in (vice presidential) debate

By Tim Skubick

If the polls are correct 82 percent of the voters claim the vice presidential candidates on the ticket will not be influencing their vote for president. Nonetheless, one of the takeaways from the 90 minute debate with Messrs. Tim Kaine and Mike Pence was that maybe those two guys should be running for president and not their running mates.

The contrast between the V.P. exchange and the thing masquerading as a debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was striking. Their thing was a mishmash of her setting the trap and him walking into it, while the Kaine-Pense looked and felt like a debate should look and feel.

Yes they interrupted one another, Mr. Kaine more than his opponent and that may have cost him the win. But in-between that you could actually compare and contrast the two based on the issues and not necessarily their persona alone. After all, that is the objective of a good debate: Give the viewers and listeners something of substance to chew on.

More topics were covered than in the main event with the Donald and Hillary. In the first debate a reporter scribbled four pages of notes while in this one it was almost seven. The two V.P. hopefuls had an illuminating back and forth over race and law enforcement. They both agreed community policing was needed to eliminate any racism within some police agencies. Mr. Pence thought the Clinton folks were making the situation worse with all the negative rhetoric while Mr. Kaine countered you can’t solve the problem if you don’t talk about it.

They tackled the Syrian refugees problem with both agreeing safe zones were needed, but Mr. Pence went after the Russians with vengeance — even suggesting “force” might be needed to corral the Reds.

It was our foundation vs. your foundation at another point with a discussion of the Trump and Clinton foundations and whom was ripping off whom.

But by far the most poignant portion came near the end when they were asked to disclose how their religious beliefs came in conflict with their duties as public officials. Mr. Kaine answered it. Mr. Pence pivoted into a dissertation on abortion. But regardless it was a revealing moment for both.

Mr. Kaine reflected that his Catholic belief persuaded him to be against the death penalty yet the voters in his state when he was governor said yes to that and so did he despite his moral convictions to the contrary. “I took an oath of office” and he explains that had to trump his personal feelings on killing criminals. His answers had all the elements of a great answer, he was clear in his language, you felt his passion and his conflict and in the end he nailed it.

Mr. Pence, instead, got into the issue of abortion and without knowing it, gave Mr. Kaine his best counter punch of the debate. The Indiana governor gave his own passionate recitation on the “sanctity of life” and how he favored adoption for children who might not have been born.

Mr. Kaine pressed his opponent on Mr. Trump’s statement that women should be “punished” for having an abortion. Mr. Pence grappled with a retort and came up with this, “He (Mr. Trump) is not a polished politician.”

And Mr. Kaine took it from there.

Remember that the female vote is especially important in this race and Mr. Trump is trying to close a 20-point gap with Ms. Clinton.

Mr. Kaine asked his opponent why government should “dictate” a decision on abortion when he contends that she be left to the women.

Instead of answering that question, which many undecided female voters may wanted to hear, he suggested instead that society is judged by how it deals with the vulnerable and the unborn. “I believe it with my whole heart.”

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