Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence put in a strong showing in the vice presidential candidates’ debate last night, explaining clearly what a Trump administration would do to bring America back from the brink and hitting his opponent Tim Kaine hard.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) laid out a largely conservative vision and a fuzzy but coherent blueprint for restoring America’s greatness last night. His opponent, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), assumed the role of Santa Claus and promised that more handouts, bigger government, and higher taxes on the productive would solve the nation’s problems. Kaine said cops and police brutality are big problems and Pence said the Left is too quick to condemn police before facts are known.
“Law enforcement in this country is a force for good,” Pence said.
Pence brought out onto the national stage the other ticket’s contempt for the State of Israel. After Kaine suggested the Israeli Joint Chiefs of Staff support the Obama administration’s loophole-ridden Iranian nuclear nonproliferation pact, the governor hammered him saying, “that’s not what Israel thinks.”
“You can go check it,” Kaine replied.
Pence then noted correctly that Kaine stayed away from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress about Iranian nuclear arms in February 2015.
“You wouldn’t necessarily know that,” Pence said. “I know you boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech.”
“I visited him in his office,” was Kaine’s weak reply.
Kaine was on the defensive almost the entire debate while Pence seemed unfazed by anything thrown at him. After Kaine said Trump’s was an insult-driven campaign, Pence laid into him:
I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all of the things that you've said he said in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn't have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables. It's -- she said they were irredeemable, they were not American. I mean, it's extraordinary.
In a nutshell, Kaine made the argument during the debate that battling terrorism is at least as important as fighting climate change. He got his prefab class-warfare talking points in which should make Democrats happy. He said it was important to elect Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman and her election would be historic and because he and his wife trust Hillary with the life of their son who, like Pence’s son, is deployed overseas in the Marine Corps. The thought of Donald Trump “as commander-in-chief scares us to death,” the senator said.
Kaine fibbed, claiming to be “a strong Second Amendment supporter,” but added “I've got a lot of scar tissue.” In fact Kaine is a huge gun control backer. He received an “F” from the NRA in 2012 and worked hard to prevent Virginians from keeping guns in their cars for self-defense when he was governor of Virginia.
Kaine suggested Trump and his supporters are racists because Trump used to endorse so-called birtherism, adding that there is a huge problem with police brutality in America.
Pence said the Obama administration has been bad for America. During his presidency America has become a weaker nation.
“We've seen an economy stifled by more taxes, more regulation, a war on coal, and a failing health care reform come to be known as Obamacare, and the American people know that we need to make a change.”
It is fair to say that Pence easily dominated the debate. He was measured and calm. Kaine, on the other hand, came across as flailing and desperate, and a little too anxious to attack.
Kaine’s preferred emotion was indignation. His exasperation at being unable to get a rise out of Pence was obvious, evidenced by his favorite phrase of the night: “I can’t believe,” which he used repeatedly.
“I can't believe that you won't defend your own voting record,” he said to Pence. He also said, “I can't believe you are defending the position …” and “I cannot believe that Governor Pence will defend the insult-driven campaign that Donald Trump has run.”
Pence got under Kaine’s skin in much the same way as Hillary Clinton irritated Donald Trump and threw him off-message several times in the first presidential debate last week.
Proof of this came when Kaine complained, “Governor Pence doesn’t think the world’s going so well and he, you know, is going to say it’s everybody’s fault.”
“I must have hit a nerve here,” Pence quipped at one point.
A relaxed Pence even made fun of Kaine for being over-prepared. After Kaine described the Trump economic plan as "a ‘you're fired’ plan,” Pence gently admonished him, saying “I appreciated the ‘you're hired,’ ‘you're fired’ thing, senator. You use that a whole lot. And I think your running mate used a lot of pre-done lines.”
A question from the moderator to both candidates gave Pence a chance to slap Kaine around on fiscal policy:
According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, neither of your economic plans will reduce the growing $19 trillion gross national debt. In fact, your plans would add even more to it. Both of you were governors who balanced state budgets. Are you concerned that adding more to the debt could be disastrous for the country.
Pence went first, replying:
I think the fact that -- that under this past administration was of which Hillary Clinton was a part, we've almost doubled the national debt is atrocious. I mean, I'm very proud of the fact that -- I come from a state that works. The state of Indiana has balanced budgets. We cut taxes, we've made record investments in education and in infrastructure, and I still finished my term with $2 billion in the bank.
That's a little bit different than when Senator Kaine was governor here in Virginia. He actually -- he actually tried to raise taxes by about $4 billion. He left his state about $2 billion in the hole. In the state of Indiana, we've cut unemployment in half; unemployment doubled when he was governor.
Kaine didn’t answer the question directly. Instead of defending his record while in the governor’s mansion in Richmond from January 2006 to January 2010, he opted to attack Trump and spew more class warfare.
Kaine offered big government solutions, promising to “invest” taxpayer funds in so-called clean energy, manufacturing, infrastructure. He promised “debt-free college and tuition-free college for families that make less than $125,000 a year,” along with increasing the minimum wage and “paying women equal pay for equal work.”
He promised “to make it easier to start and grow small businesses,” provide tax relief to middle-class individuals and small businesses, and hike taxes on “those at the very top who've benefited as we've come out of recession.”
Kaine mocked Pence as “a one-man bulwark against minimum wage increases in Indiana,” and said Trump’s economic plan consists of “massive tax breaks for the very top, trillions of dollars of tax breaks for people just like Donald Trump.”
The two men clashed over foreign policy and national security.
Kaine declared that the nuclear nonproliferation agreement negotiated with Iran was going to make the world safer, a point rejected by Pence who said the pact hasn’t done anything to slow Iran’s march towards developing nuclear weapons.
When Pence hit Kaine over Hillary’s email scandal, saying national secrets were at risk, Kaine was dismissive, noting that the FBI concluded not to move forward with a prosecution.
The congenitally corrupt Clintons created their unique cloak-and-dagger email infrastructure to frustrate Freedom of Information Act requesters, shield Hillary's correspondence from congressional oversight, and steer money to the international cash-for-future-presidential-favors clearinghouse known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which, amazingly enough, still enjoys tax-exempt status.
The debate between Pence and Kaine was the first and only scheduled vice presidential debate of this election cycle. It took place at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, and was moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. (A transcript is available here.)
It was also the first real vice presidential candidates’ debate since 2008. The 2012 forum in which Vice President Joe Biden (D) and now-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) clashed can’t be considered much of a debate. It consisted of an unhinged Biden bullying Ryan and obnoxiously interrupting him over and over again. There was almost no discussion of issues because Biden’s strategy consisted of silencing his debate opponent.
Meanwhile, the biggest lie circulating in media circles right now is that Clinton’s campaign has “momentum” because Trump has been retroactively deemed the loser of the first presidential debate after a week of relentless media spin.
Clinton is in a somewhat strong position but there is scant evidence of this alleged momentum. Left-wing journalists seem to want to think Hillary is gaining so they are imagining it and coming up with evidence afterwards to justify their fantasies.
After a more disciplined Trump solidified his base of support following a tough August, the polls have been fairly stable in recent weeks with most showing Clinton with a modest lead.
The Real Clear Politics moving average of national polls shows Clinton slightly ahead of Trump. Clinton is now at 44.3 percent, 3.7 percentage points ahead of Trump who has 40.6 percent. Trailing are Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7.4 percent and Jill Stein of the Green Party at 2.6 percent.
Next up is the second presidential debate which will take place this Sunday, October 9 at Missouri’s Washington University in St. Louis. It will take the form of a town hall meeting.
The moderator will be Martha Raddatz, chief global affairs correspondent at ABC News. She is the person who screwed up the 2012 veep debate, allowing Joe Biden to turn the event into a monologue.
Raddatz is likely to give Trump a rough ride because has strong ties to the Left. Barack Obama attended her wedding to her now ex-husband Julius Genachowski. Genachowski was the controversial chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from June 2009 to May 2013.