FARMVILLE, Va. (CN) – In their only debate faceoff of the 2016 campaign, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine had widely different goals. For Pence, Job 1, 2 and 3 was steadying Donald Trump’s bruised and battered presidential bid. Kaine tried to keep the pressure on, wihout diminishing the momentum surge enjoyed by the Democratic ticket.
The latest NBC News/Survey Money poll showed Hillary Clinton with a 6-point lead, besting Trump 42 percent to 40 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson has the support of 9 percent of the electorate, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein 3 percent.
More localized polls showed Clinton with decisive leads in Illinois (25 points), Oregon (12 points), and Pennsylvania (10 percent), while Trump continued do well in Tennessee, where he is up by 12 points.
Elaine Quijano of CBS News moderated Tuesday night’s 90-minute showdown at Virginia’s Longwood University. While last week’s first presidential debate was watched by a record-setting television audience of 84 million people, Tuesday’s contest was expected to have smaller viewership, given Pence and Kaine’s lower profiles in the campaign.
Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence, right, and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine stand before the audience during the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
(CN) – The candidates were asked about the challenge of balancing their faith with the sometimes-conflicting responsibilities of their elected offices.
“That’s an easy one,” Sen. Kaine said. “I try to practice my religion in a devout way and follow the teachings of my church in a personal way. But I don’t believe in raising one religion over another. The Catholic Church is against the death penalty, but I was the governor of a state that said there was a death penalty for crimes committed which were heinous … and it was difficult for me, but I abided by the law of my state.”
Gov. Pence responded by talking about “the sanctity of life … which proceeds out of the belief of an ancient principle … So from the first time I was in public service, I stood with sanctity of life … and expand alternatives for [women seeking abortions] … If you’re going to be pro life, you should be pro adoption. What I can’t understand is the idea to support or practice a partial birth abortion. The very idea that a child is almost born into the world and could still have a life taken from them … I can’t in good conscience support a party that supports that.”
Sen. Kaine then accused the governor of wanting to reverse the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion.
“If that happened, states would pass laws to punish women,” Kaine said. “The very last thing government should do is punish women who make reproductive choices.”
“We would never support legislation that supports that,” Gov. Pence said.
“Why did he say that, then,” Kaine said, referring to Trump’s assertion in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last spring that women who get abortions should face “some form of punishment.”
“Well, he’s not a polished politician like you or Hillary,” Pence said.
“Out of the fullness of one’s heart, the mouth speaks,” Kaine retorted. “So when Trump said he would punish women who wanted abortions, he meant it.”
(AP) – Some of Kaine’s one-liners sounded a bit forced, at least to Gov. Pence.
“Do you want a ‘you’re hired’ president in Hillary Clinton or a ‘you’re fired president’ in Donald Trump?” Sen. Kaine asked, appropriating Trump’s signature line from “The Apprentice.”
Pence scoffed and shook his head.
“First, let me say, I appreciated the ‘you’re hired,’ ‘you’re fired’ thing, Senator,” Pence said. “You use that a whole lot, and I think your running mate used a lot of pre-done lines.”
In the presidential debate, Trump had mocked Clinton for repeating a line from her television commercials about how someone who can be provoked with a tweet shouldn’t be given the nuclear codes.
Pence contributed his own wince-worthy line a moment later.
“There you go again,” Pence said flatly, when Kaine talked about Republicans wanting to privatize Social Security. That’s a line made famous by President Ronald Reagan.
(CN) – More on Russia from Gov. Pence: “America is superior to the crony, corrupt government Russia in every way. That the small and bullying leader of Russia has been stronger on the world stage than this administration, that’s stating painful facts. That’s an indictment of the weak and feckless leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”
(CN) – The candidates also clashed over Russia.
Gov. Pence said Hillary Clinton’s top priority when she became secretary of state was the ‘Russian Reset.’ Then Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea. The bully Russia is now dictating terms to the United States, the greatest nation on Earth.
With an exasperated expression, Pence continued: So she just withdraws from talks about a ceasefire, while Putin puts a missile defense in Syria. We have got to begin to lean in on this with strong, broad-shouldered American leadership, and that begins with rebuilding our military. Provocations by Russia need to be met with American spirit, and if Russia continues to be involved in these barbaric attacks on the people of Syria, the U.S. should be able to use military force to strike against them.
Sen. Kaine responded: “Gov. Pence made an odd claim, saying that Putin was a better leader than Obama. If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you have to go back to a fifth-grade civics class.”
(CN) – Sen. Tim Kaine turned a question about police and what some perceive as the unfair targeting of black Americans by law enforcement into a series of verbal attacks on Donald Trump.
Kaine said criminal justice is about respecting the law but also being respectful. He said Donald Trump does not agree, and pointed to the GOP presidential candidate’s assertion during the Republican primaries that immigrants from Mexico are “rapists and criminals.”
Kaine then went on to attack Trump foor referring to women as “slobs and pigs,” ”dogs” and “disgusting.”
“I feel ashamed to even repeat such things in front of my wife,” Kaine said.
Clinton’s running mate also referred to Trump criticizing Indiana-born federal judge overseeing a fraud case involving Trump University. Trump said the judge wasn’t fit to hear the case because of his Mexican heritage.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence could not respond before debate moderator Elaine Quijano moved on to other topics.
In a rare moment, Kaine and Pence agreed on policy. Namely that community policing should be a priority.
But the detente didn’t last long.
Pence defended Trump’s support for a police practice known as stop-and-risk, something Hillary Clinton opposes.
Kaine said stop-and-frisk would be a “big mistake” because it divides communities and increases polarization between police and the people.
Kaine also called for tighter gun control, referencing his experience as governor of Virginia at the time of the Virginia Tech shooting that left 32 people dead in 2007.
Pence said Trump wants to “restore law and order,” and he said law enforcement should not be demeaned at “every opportunity.”
Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence, right, listens to Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine speak during the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (Andrew Gombert/Pool via AP)
Sen. Tim Kaine: “Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot.”
Gov. Mike Pence on Immigration: “Donald Trump will end illegal immigration once and for all … For the first time in the history of immigration customs enforcement endorsed Donald Trump because they know … they need help to remove people who have overstayed their visas and once we’ve accomplished that, once the criminal aliens are out, then we will deal with those that remain.”
(CN) – More on taxes: Gov. Pence: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Kaine, they’re both career public servants and that’s great. Donald trump is a business man and not a politician. He built a business. Those tax returns [a portion of Donald Trump’s tax returns published last weekend by The New York Times] showed he faced pretty tough times 20 years ago, but he used something called net operating loss. We have a tax code that is actually designed to encourage entrepreneurship. He used the tax code just the way it should be used.
“I guess those of us who pay taxes are stupid then,” Sen. Kaine said before being cut off by the moderator.
(AP) — Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine aggressively defended running mate Hillary Clinton’s character, one of her chief campaign weaknesses, in Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate. He slammed Donald Trump as someone who “always puts himself first” and questioned how his No. 2 could stand by him.
“I can’t imagine how Gov. Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, me-first style of Donald Trump,” Kaine said of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence, a mild-mannered Midwesterner, panned the Democratic ticket as promising frustrated Americans “more of the same.” He said Trump would repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and noted former President Bill Clinton’s criticism of the measure this week.
Kaine went on the attack from the start, repeatedly interrupting Pence, who remained calm and carried on with his answers.
(CN) – The vice-presidential candidates also sparred over Donald Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns.
“Donald Trump started this campaign in 2014 saying he will absolutely release his taxes … and he hasn’t done it. He broke his promise,” Sen. Kaine said.
“And when the subject of his income tax came up in the debate last week, Donald Trump said he was smart to pay as little in taxes as possible,” the Democrat continued. “So it’s smart not to pay for our military, smart not to pay for our veterans, smart not to pay for education?”
“Donald Trump required you to show him your tax returns to show that you are qualified to be vice president. Donald Trump must give the American public his tax returns to show that he is qualified to be president.”
“He is going to release his taxes when the audit is over,” Gov. Pence said.
(CN) – Ask about the issue of trust borne of ongoing questions about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the activities of the Clinton Foundation, Sen. Kaine said he personally trusts his running mate, then pivoted to attacking Donald Trump on, among other things, the billionaire real estate developer’s involvement in the birther movement, which falsely claimed President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and his insulting comments about Mexicans and other minority groups.
Gov. Pence was then asked to address the view among many that Donald Trump is too “erratic” to be president.
Pence leaped right into the breach, telling Kaine that he and Clinton “know a lot about an insult-driven campaign.”
He went on to attack Clinton as the “architect of the Obama administration’s failed foreign policy,” which he said led to a “world spinning out of control.”
Kaine then launched on the attack, saying of the GOP ticket, “these guys have praised Vladimir Putin.”
“I must have hit a nerve here,” Pence said.
“Under the foreign policy Hillary Clinton created for the Obama administration we’ve weakened America’s place in the world,” he added.
“Donald Trump has built a business through good times and hard times,” Pence said, changing course.
“And lost a billion dollars a year doing it,” Kaine said.
(CN) – Donald Trump is live-tweeting during Tuesday’s debate. During a rally in Arizona, he said the contest would be “a contrast between our campaign of big ideas and bold solutions for tomorrow versus the small and petty Clinton campaign that is totally stuck in the past.”
Hillary Clinton also talked about the debate earlier today while campaigning in Pennsylvania.
She said she’d been keeping in touch with Tim Kaine over email about his debate preparations.
“I think America is going to be very impressed and really feel positive about Tim Kaine as our next vice president,” she said.
(CN) – The debate hasn’t started yet, but the Republican National Committee evidently already knows their man did just fine: The party accidentally posted its prewritten spin on Indiana Gov. Mile Pence’s “victory” on GOP.com.
“The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate,” the post says.
The page, which has jsut been taken down says Pence’s top moments from the debate were his comments on the economy and his ability to highlight “Hillary’s scandals.”
“Mike Pence made the most of his opportunity to debate Hillary’s VP pick Time Kane. The other clear winner from tonights debate was Donald Trump. His running mate perfectly shared Trump’s vision to make America great again and that message is resonating with Americans all across the country,” the post said.
We shall see …
(CN) – The atmosphere at Virginia’s Longwood University is markedly different from the one reporters encountered in the lead-up to last week’s presidential candidate debate at Hofstra University in New York.
There are no protests. Instead, what one finds at every turn is young people having fun – listening to music and vying for swag, including very practical fleece blankets that are being given away.
Inside the media room, cartoons and kid’s shows are playing on the multiple monitors, without explanation.
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