Pence wins on looks; Kaine, on facts

pence-v-kaineThe Vice Presidential debate never matters much in the selection of our Chief Executive. Given what’s at stake in choosing between the Democrat and Republican Presidential nominees, it perhaps matters  even less this year.  But at least for a few days, last night’s Mike Pence/ Tim Kaine head-to-head could influence the national conversation. Even that could be pushed aside as Hurricane Matthew comes closer and the baseball playoffs get underway.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, with his calm, handsome appearance and often smooth delivery, honed by experience as a former talk show host, won on optics and demeanor. Virginia Senator and former Governor Tim Kaine was over-eager, over-scripted and interrupted too much, sometimes coming across like a gerbil frantic to irritate the opposition. If you were to watch the debate with the sound turned off, Pence was the clear winner. The moderator, CBSN’s Elaine Quijano, was in way over her head in attempting to curb the interruptions or guide the discussion. She treated the questions (with lack of follow-ups) as if she were running a speed-dating event.

But style isn’t substance. While Kaine was rat-a-tat-tat with his attack on outrageous comments Donald Trump has made, Pence was simultaneously shaking his head no and  denying Trump ever said those things. The Huffington Post has set to  music all Pence’s denials along with the video of the Trump statements Pence is insisting never happened.

The Washington Post’s fact checking of the debate looks at all the assertions made by the two and finds misstatements and exaggerations by both candidates.  It found that Kaine got out “ahead of his skis” in his claims of what Clinton has achieved regarding reduction of nuclear materials in Russia and the impact of cutting taxes for the wealthiest in spurring the great recession. Pence twisted an AP report on the number of meetings that Clinton donors had to her when she was Secretary of State and was wrong on the percentage of Clinton Foundation money that goes to charity. His claim regarding a reduction in and weakening of the U.S. Navy was also off base.  These are just some of the examples the Post found.

Pence’s job last night was to defend the indefensible, and he couldn’t do it. What he could do is position himself in the eyes of the GOP conservative establishment as a plausible presidential candidate for 2020. Depending on your point of view, he either refused to be baited or failed to support his running mate. He even advocated positions that Trump has not.

But 2020 is a long  way from now and assumes a turn of events on November 8 that is by no means guaranteed. Actuarially speaking, the Vice Presidential nominees are more relevant this year, and last night’s debate was a useful introduction to two unknowns, who could actually be called on to serve if necessary. In Pence’s case, it left some Republican and undecided viewers wishing the GOP ticket were reversed. All in all, however, last night’s debate will probably be but a blip on the screen when we go to the polls to cast our votes.

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6 thoughts on “Pence wins on looks; Kaine, on facts

  1. Deval N Carnate

    Kaine was a stuttering fool,much like Biden in 2012….what were the “facts” he won on,that Hillary stabilized the Middle East?


  2. M.J.Doherty

    Election 2016: The Debates

    Men in face lifts, masks –
    the one a large boisterous clown
    and money man repeating again the same
    offensive words, dry blown,
    the other wan and smooth,
    no wrinkle or line, a mien
    of cool composure under pure white hair,
    made for fantasy survival and TV –
    Are you there? No, thanks.

    Please give me just
    the ordinary theater of the other two,
    the pretty lady full of faults and suffering,
    experience, and the good man in his own
    open, kindly, human face, who looks
    at people not the camera.
    They are real.


  3. suewurster

    Hmm…much being said, positively, this morning, about Pence’s look and temperament. And while I had found him, prior to the debate, to carry himself in a gentlemanly and even affable way, I found his manner, at this event, to be truly disquieting. When he wasn’t outright laughing at the Democratic VP nominee as Kaine spoke, he was smiling in a supercilious way and either shaking or nodding his head in a condescending manner. Yes, Kaine interrupted over and over again–but Pence did too (and, in the end, almost as often). Pence, in fact, often just ignored the moderator entirely (especially when she would tell him that, after giving him 30 seconds to respond, he had gone for over a minute). After his first interruption, Kaine seemed startled, saying he thought that they were supposed to be using a discussion format, which the moderator indicated they were. But discussion never happened. And, after that initial interchange with the moderator, it seemed as though Kaine almost HAD to keep interrupting because Pence just kept talking–and, mostly, out of the side of his narrowly opened mouth, as though he was determined not to pause at all and, thus, give his opponent an opportunity to get in. I was stunned by how long the man could go on without seeming to take a breath. (In any other year, I think Pence would have been hit much more heavily on his “Cheney-like” clenched jaw and “spit speech” style.) Ah, well…”there you go again.” (Was stunned to hear that old chestnut come out of the governor’s mouth.) And why did they “protect” Pence by not asking a question on LGBTQ rights? Sigh…


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