October’s vice-presidential debate between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence showed the respective weaknesses and strengths of both candidates to American viewers, many of whom did not know either of them to begin with (surveys noted that up to 40 percent of all Americans were completely unfamiliar with both Pence and Kaine).
The debate was held at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, with both men seated at a roundtable and moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS asking questions, but more often playing referee.
Senator Tim Kaine started the debate with prepared remarks that were obvious platitudes about “making peoples’ lives better,” but avoided anything that could have been a reference to corruption and the faults of either Hillary Clinton or her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
By contrast, Mike Pence talked about growing up in a small town in Indiana, and he came off sounding far more earnest, honest and far less scripted than Kaine, a theme that was to continue throughout the evening.
Kaine was asked about voters’ immense distrust of and/or disgust with Hillary Clinton. Smiling Kaine, looking like a happy town drunk, again resorted to fairy tales about Hillary helping children when she was First Lady of Arkansas.
He then tried to diminish GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump over Trump’s long but imperfect business career. Finally — shifting gears to an easy insult — seemingly out of nowhere, Kaine brought up Trump’s long-term investigation of President Obama’s birthplace, which had resulted in controversy some years ago.
In response, Pence rightly called out Kaine for the Democrats’ nearly purely insult-driven presidential campaign. Almost immediately, the first of Kaine’s record 72 interruptions of Pence during the debate was out of the former’s mouth, and the Democrat managed to interrupt the Indiana governor at least twice more before he was temporarily silenced by moderator Quijano.
Over the course of the debate, Quijano was unable to control runaway motormouth Kaine as the Virginia senator interrupted Pence virtually unceasingly. As opposed to the yapping attack-dog Kaine, Pence appeared to be much calmer, steadier and more thoughtful than his opponent.
Pence was asked about the federal budget. The Republican governor pointed out that the nation’s debt under President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton has nearly doubled. Pence reminded viewers that as Indiana’s governor, he’s balanced his state’s budget and has left it with a large surplus, versus Kaine leaving his home state of Virginia with a multi-billion-dollar deficit during the latter’s tenure as governor there.
Pence pointed out that in today’s America, middle-class citizens are struggling economically, and Hillary Clinton wants at least $1 trillion more in tax increases, more regulations, a war on coal mining and an expansion of failed Democratic initiative Obamacare. Pence says the Trump campaign wants the opposite of these things.
In a clearly scripted response, Kaine said that Hillary’s tax-and-spend plans amounted to saying “you’re hired!” to the American people versus Trump’s plan, which he claimed would effectively be announcing “you’re fired!” Kaine immediately shifted gears to college tuition giveaways without talking about the tax increases that would have to pay for them.
Pence reminded viewers that any way you look at it, the American economy is broken. Millions more people are now living in poverty than when Obama took office, and meanwhile, Kaine is essentially speculating about phantom jobs and talking vaguely of economists liking his party’s “plans.”
Pence pointed out that as a businessman, Donald Trump has created tens of thousands of jobs over a period of decades and can run the country like a business responsible for its bottom line, instead of like a charity without oversight.
Clearly agitated, Kaine continued to interrupt Pence and excused his interjections after being called out on them by moderator Quijano by saying “we’re having fun up here.”
After being temporarily cooled down, Kaine was asked about Social Security. Kaine said the Democrats will try to keep the program “solvent.” Pence pointed out that under Clinton’s plans, the national debt will continue to balloon.
The candidates were asked about police shootings; Kaine talked about reducing homicide during his time as a city councilor in Richmond. He spoke positively about “community policing,” which some people may have seen as an allusion to social justice warrior groups such as Black Lives Matter and its multiple city protests against various police actions.
Kaine said he is a gun owner, but that he wants to apply more background checks to all gun purchases.
In response, Pence said his uncle had been a policeman. Pence talked about the bravery of police officers in general and said he agreed about the need for community policing, but stressed that what was of primary importance was “law and order.”
Pence reminded debate viewers that 330,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed the Republican ticket. Pence talked about police forces around the country getting hit with negative PR in the wake of controversial police shootings.
Pence pointed out a Charlotte, North Carolina police officer who killed disabled father Keith Lamont Scott in the line of duty. Hillary Clinton said the incident was a blatant case of bias, but Pence reminded viewers that the officer who fired the gun is black.
Pence said the country must stop dwelling on these moments of tragedy and instead work on reforming police doctrines, which should include using proven methods such as “stop-and-frisk” tactics.
Instead of rebutting Pence, out of nowhere, Kaine again brought up Trump’s investigation of the president’s birthplace in the second of several such instances.
When asked about immigration, Pence said both he and Trump want to end illegal immigration without reservation. Pence said that unlike the GOP, Kaine and Clinton want to continue all the Obama administration’s current problems involving illegal immigrants — such as amnesty, catch-and-release operations and sanctuary cities.
Pence said that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency endorsed a ticket — the Republicans’ — for the first time in its history. He said they need help executing their job, rather than bureaucrats that would prevent them from doing it.
Kaine talked about “immigration reform,” but it only sounded like an expansion of Obama’s failed policies. Kaine said Trump wants to deport all illegal immigrants. Pence asked what the problem was with that. Kaine said it would be impossible and unrealistic to kick out 16 million people, but Pence denied this is Trump’s plan; on the other hand, Pence pointed out that the Democrats’ plan amounts to “open borders.”
Pence said everything needs to begin with border security; the focus must be on alien criminals. Such criminals must be dealt with harshly, and people who overstay their visas have to leave. Trump and Pence want more border agents — they want to uphold the law, not ignore it.
Kaine continued to interrupt Pence, and Pence took offense. Kaine kept repeating that Trump said that Mexicans are rapists and criminals. Pence said that Kaine kept leaving the “many Mexicans are good people” part out of his Trump quotations.
On terrorism, Kaine recited talking points about the death of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran and Hillary Clinton’s serving as a New York senator on the date of the 9/11 terror attacks.
To counter Kaine, Pence pointed out that America is less safe today than it was following 9/11. Pence blamed a lack of leadership, both from Obama and from Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. He said that because Clinton failed to negotiate the U.S.’s ability to stay in Iraq after the Iraq War, ISIS was created out of a power vacuum there.
Pence said that under George W. Bush, Iraq had been secured, but under Obama, we walked away, and now the country has fallen apart. He pointed out the tragic case of Scott Zubowski, a fallen soldier who died in 2005 fighting to liberate Fallujah, Iraq — a battle which now appears to have been fought in vain due to what’s happened in the country.
Pence pointed out that the Iran nuclear deal has limitations; the Iranians can get around it and/or violate its terms when it’s over. Pence said we need extreme vetting of immigrants when they try to enter our country so that terrorists can’t infiltrate their ranks; he said he believes we should not take Syrian refugees solely for this reason.
Kaine said that a state court recently decided that resettling Syrian refugees can’t be proactively blocked if the refugees haven’t yet committed crimes, but Pence protested that European governments have already done this in numerous cases.
Pence pointed out that it was the director of the FBI who said we can’t know for certain where these people are coming from or who they are in many cases. Pence said it’s the goal of the GOP to put the safety of Americans first.
Regarding intelligence, Kaine said the Democrats want to expand the intelligence community, hiring more people, spending more money and sharing information electronically with our allies. Reacting to this, Pence said that cyber warfare is the new warfare, and Hillary Clinton’s scandal with her unsecured private email server showed her incredibly bad judgment in this department.
On the matter of Syria, Pence said our country must have stronger leadership. He stated that one of Hillary Clinton’s highest priorities as Secretary of State had been the “reset” with Syrian ally Russia, after which time Russia nonchalantly invaded Ukraine.
Pence asserted that our military needs to be rebuilt; he claimed our navy is currently the smallest it’s been since 1916. Pence said the U.S. must be strong, and if necessary, it needs to attack Syrian targets.
Kaine talked about Hillary “standing up” to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He claimed that Clinton knows Putin’s true character, despite having the Russian “reset” as one of her earlier goals. Kaine then proceeded to talk about Putin persecuting the LGBT community in Russia. Perhaps sensing weakness, he switched the subject to 9/11 and its first responders and how Clinton has stood up for them.
When moderator Quijano brought the discussion’s topic back to Syria, Kaine said he and Clinton wanted to create a “humanitarian safety zone” over time for Syrian civilians. Pence said we need to act now on Syria to save lives. Pence said Clinton’s lack of leadership during her time as Secretary of State showed her and the Obama administration’s tendency to be “weak and feckless.”
Kaine argued that, as opposed to Clinton, Trump has shown feelings of amity for Putin. Bizarrely, Kaine actually used the issue to bring up Trump’s taxes, saying that Trump had financial interests in Russia. By contrast, Pence said that Obama has “awakened the [sleeping] Russian bear.” He pointed out that Russia is helping Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror, and is helping the Iranians get closer to having nuclear weapons.
While Kaine kept mumbling about killing Osama bin Laden, Pence talked about Obama’s recent ransom payment to Iran, in which some $1.3 billion in cash was sent to the country on unmarked cargo planes in exchange for American hostages being released.
The two sparred on North Korea and foreign influence on the U.S. Pence brought up the Clinton Foundation, which has literally thousands of foreign donors and has been heavily influenced by foreign regimes and business interests.
Pence said that half of Hillary Clinton’s meetings as Secretary of State were with donors who expected pay-to-play deals with American defense contractors. Kaine countered by saying that the Clinton Foundation had a higher rating than the Red Cross as a charity, but given the immense scandals with the Red Cross in recent years, this was a negligible plaudit.
Predictably, Kaine said he didn’t see a conflict of interest with Clinton as Secretary of State while donors made contributions to the Clinton Foundation.
Pence pointed out that the Clinton Foundation gave less than 10 cents of every dollar to charitable causes and claimed that the organization was more or less a vehicle by which the Clintons could enrich themselves and take private jets around the world. He said that many of Hillary Clinton’s emails which had not been made public could prove this.
One of the last subjects that moderator Quijano brought up was religion; Kaine talked about being educated by Jesuits. He said that Jesuits were his “heroes,” without elaborating too much on this detail. Kaine said he’s personally against the death penalty, but as the governor of Virginia — a state that mandates capital punishment — he had to implement it.
Pence talked about faith being important in his life and said he’s worked hard to balance faith with his personal values. He talked about the sanctity of life and why it’s important to stand up for it. Pence said he’s strongly in favor of non-abortion alternatives for prenatal counseling.
He also said that Hillary Clinton supports partial-birth abortion. Kaine countered by saying that even though he’s against abortion personally, he supports it as a value of the Democratic Party. Pence said that Republicans don’t want to punish women for abortion, but at the same time, he believes that a culture of valuing life is important.
In closing, Kaine said that Hillary Clinton has a track record of working “across the aisle” to accomplish political unity. But Pence claimed that Clinton represents a failed culture of Washington politics and that President Obama has destroyed the nation with his policies — policies that Clinton and Kaine want to continue and extend. Pence said the country’s direction must change, and the nation’s economy needs to be “off to the races” again.
Overall, it was a more measured and cordial debate than the one between Clinton and Trump. Whether the same tone will be captured at the third presidential debates is doubtful, but the contrast shown in the two vice-presidential candidates’ respective characters was enormous and proved that Pence looks ready to take over the job of president any time, whereas Kaine looked like he was merely reciting scripts given to him by his party’s debate coaches.
Should Pence be called on to take over the job of being the nation’s commander-in-chief, it appears we would be in good hands. With Kaine, one was left wondering if there was anything there.
~American Liberty Report