Tim Kaine and Mike Pence went head to head for the first and last period this year. Heres how they performed

Richard Wolffe : Both Pence and Kaine beat their bosses


Mike Pence likes to shake his head in incredulity. Its a nice touch, much like the permanently ached look on his face.

But at Tuesdays vice-presidential debate, it wasnt altogether clear why Pence was so unhappy. Was he opposed to every word coming out of Tim Kaines mouth? Or was he simply dismayed at his own situation?

Its not easy campaigning as Donald Trumps running mate. You cant admit the obvious: that your presidential candidate is concealing his tax returns, stoking combating racism and scaring allies around the world.

So you have to deny Trumps quotes, or accuse your opponent of hurling insults. But most of all, you have to look affable while your running mate seemed irascible.

In that sense, Pence succeeded in beating his boss. The problem is: so did Kaine.

If Kaine had one undertaking, it was to repeat as aloud and often as is practicable all the dumb and offensive words that have tumbled out of Trumps curled lips.

It wasnt a pretty night for the Democratic veep picking. He interrupted too often and smiled too little. He was forced to repeat Trumps worst insults. He seemed and sounded too hot, where his challenger seemed and sounded too sincere.

But in truth, neither man seemed comfy in their designated role. Like two insurance salesmen getting drunk at their annual trade conference, Kaine and Pence were just trying too hard.

Kaine tried to beat Pence into submission with pesky facts. Pence tried to smother his facts with a syrupy version of Ronald Reagan. You can roll out the numbers and the sunny side, Pence said, but people in Scranton know different.

It would be easy to dismiss Kaine-Pence as a sideshow. But given the likelihood that either President Clinton or President Trump get impeached, we might have just seen the only debate with the ultimate winner of the 2016 election.

It would be easy to dismiss Kaine-Pence as a sideshow. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters

Kate Aronoff : Kaine was all interruption , no inspiration


This was a disappointing night for the Clinton campaign. While Pence maintained his cool, Kaine tried to imitate Joe Bidens interruption-heavy performance against Paul Ryan in 2012 without half his charisma. Kaines biggest downfall, though, may not have been about tone.

Compared to Kaine, Pence told a compelling if terrifyingly cynical and blatantly false tale of a country that has lost its route, and how he and Trump intend to restore it. Make America Great Again might be one of the best political mottoes of the past few decades. But Trump owes its creation to people such as Margaret Thatcher and Reagan, who worked to spread the neoliberal gospel thats now seep into both parties. That evangelizing project has been incredibly successful, with each candidate airing concerns about government spending, personal responsibility and the limits of American coffers.

There were glaring omissions tonight, too. Despite a series of increasingly brutal projections about the likelihood of catastrophic global warming, talk of climate change was limited to a few coded words at the debates start, like the mythical war on coal and clean energy tasks of tomorrow. A cringe-worthy dialogue about criminal justice reform somehow managed not to breach mass incarceration. And a brief discussion of reproductive rights one that should have been up top dedicated Cents deplorable record on the issue get shunted to the very end.

The Democratic party has spent the past several decades pivoting around words of debate set by the right. Kaines loss in tonights debate proved just how much work the Democrats and the social movements pushing them is necessary to recenter the conversation.

More than the intelligence upsurge Kaine and Clinton keep pushing, the Democratic party needs a surge in imagination, to do more than play defense against attacks from across the aisle and propose transformative answers, in line with the ache many Americans today are facing. That was sorely missing tonight.

Carla Sorey-Reed : Pence is a prettier, more practiced Trump


Kaine and Pence had a relatively balanced debate no knockouts. Two experienced legislators dispatched to further the rhetoric of their campaigns and defend presidential candidates at the top of the ticket. Neither disappointed.

At the start, when asked what attained him a good candidate for the vice-presidency, Kaine faltered. Appearing down, he rushed a heavily scripted first answer, told through the filter of Clintons point of view, that took too long and strained to connect back to the question. Kaine directed his entire answer off camera, which greatly reduced his participation with the television audience.

Pence reiterated Trumps conservative postures, doubling down on wealth and whiteness for the win. Pence tried to spin away from Kaines phases on policy, employing plain speak the common language of the Trump campaign. When Kaine pushed Pence on social security systems, all that Pence could offer was: There they go again. Were going to meet our obligations to seniors.

Pence won the debate by a landslide. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters

It was on the topics of policing, immigration and women that discrepancies between the men and their campaigns was attained most clear. Both men told personal tales of “the member states national” divide across policing. Implicit bias was the lightning rod for the discussion. Kaine spoke of community policing and building bonds of understanding while Pence seemed annoyed with the topic and impatiently attempted to dress down his opponent by saying enough of seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time misfortune results. A frightening reality check for minorities.

On immigration, Pence offered more thinly veiled loathe with too often with criminal aliens in the country, its bringing heartache. If merely Kaine had challenged him right then and there. As the debate went on, Kaine grew stronger, relying less on prepared statements and messages, and listening and responding in real period.

In the words of Kaine: From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks … Donald Trump is indicating you who he is. Pence speaks the same, merely prettier and more practiced. Let us not be fooled.

Jamie Weinstein : Pence maintained his cool and won by a landslide

Kaine attempted to act like a bulldog Tuesday night but instead arrived across as a nipping chihuahua.

The senator from Virginia entered the first and merely vice-presidential debate intent on stimulating the mild-mannered Pence defend his running mates most outrageous statements. But unlike Trump, Pence apparently isnt prone to chasing shiny objects.

Constantly interrupting Pence and speaking at a mile a minute, Kaine tried for the life of him to get Pence to discuss Trumps racist attack on Indiana Judge Gonzalo Curiel, Trumps proposal to ban Muslims, Trumps praise of Vladimir Putin, Trumps call to deport all illegal immigrants, and so on and so forth. Whatever the accuracy of Kaines attacks on Trump and build no mistake, they were often accurate Kaines style was excessive. By throw away so many issues in one breath, he made his rhetorical assault hard for viewers to follow. He also made it easy for Pence to ignored him with a shake of the head a nonverbal there you go again.

Kaines constant I know it all interruptions might be considered the 2016 version of Al Gores groans. It attained him come across as a thoroughly unlikable figure.

By contrast, Pence was calm and cool. He methodically hammered home the Trump campaigns positive themes lets get Americas economy moving again, lets put American workers first, lets bring back American tasks, lets project strength in the world, America needs change.

Sure, these are broad themes, but are proposed in Pences confident way, they resonate. Like Kaine, Pence had his share of canned lines. Unlike Kaine, he was able to deliver them in a way that attained them seem sincere and sometimes even heartfelt. Performance matters.

Pence won the debate by a landslide, and its hard to imagine there will be many in the media who will even attempt to claim otherwise. The only question is how his running mates fragile ego will react when all those who panned his debate abilities praise Penny.

Read more: www.theguardian.com