FARMVILLE, Va. (CN) — The undercard in this year's presidential brawl takes the stage tonight in what The New York Times called the "least-anticipated vice-presidential debate in history." Be that as it may, there's a lot at stake: the country.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will do tag-team duties for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton's running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, at Longwood University at their lone debate at 9 p.m. EDT. Elaine Quijano of CBS News will moderate.
Trump's taxes are sure to be on the agenda, after the Times' recent revelation that he declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 federal tax return — nearly 2 percent of all net operating losses reported by U.S. taxpayers that year — which could have enabled him to pay no taxes for 18 years.
The Trump campaign has all but declared that President Bill Clinton's marital infidelities will become open game soon, but may not delegate that job to Pence, who was chosen, in part, due to his appeal to Christian conservatives.
Historically, vice-presidential nominees plump for their running mates during their debates — this will be the only faceoff between Pence and Kaine.
Pence has been preparing for his 90 minutes in the spotlight since Labor Day, most recently with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as his mock sparring partner.
Kaine left last week's presidential debate before it began, telling throngs of reporters that he was "actually doing homework" that night for tonight's debate.
Both campaigns have reason to be nervous. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has promised an "October Surprise" for Hillary Clinton, presumably based on electronic documents from her four years as secretary of state. Citing concerns for his safety, Assange backpedaled on a plan to make an announced from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has lived for several years fighting extradition to Sweden for sex allegations. Assange said Monday he will make his announcement via video link to Berlin.
In addition to Trump's taxes, Pence will have to deal with the New York attorney general's Monday order that the Trump Foundation stop soliciting donations in New York state, for failing to register as a charity.
Kaine will be on his home turf in Virginia tonight, a swing state, mostly due to its heavy concentration of Democrats in the District of Columbia area. Recent polls by Politico and RealClearPolitics.com put Clinton ahead of Trump in Virginia by 7 to 10 points.
Farmville, a pastoral community of 8,300 just south of dead center in Virginia, is 60 percent white and 35 percent. Its median household income of $27,100 in 2013 was less than half the state median of $62,666.
Longwood University is a liberal arts college with enrollment of just under 5,100, on a 154-acre triangle near downtown Farmville.
Gens. Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant both marched through what would one day be university grounds just days before the Civil War ended with Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Israel Hill, 2 miles outside of Longwood, hosted a community where scores of freed slaves settled during Reconstruction.
Just south of the campus is the former Robert Russa Moton High School, now a museum, known as the student birthplace of the Civil Rights movement, for providing most of the plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954. Robert Russa Moton (1867-1940) was a renowned black educator who became principal of the Tuskegee Institute in 1915 after the death of its founder, Booker T. Washington.