Everyone knows the two major party presidential nominees, but do you know who their running mates are? If you missed the debate last night, Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana, and Tim Kaine, the Senator of Virginia met for the first time in a fierce contest for the vice presidency. The first and only vice presidential debate was held at Longwood University in Farmville Virginia, and was moderated by CBSN news anchor Elaine Quijano. Watch it here.
After the presidential debate last week, Secretary Clinton has been trending up in the polls, and Senator Kaine hoped to continue that push last night, while Governor Pence is hoping to regain some ground in the Trump campaign.
I knew nothing about either candidate other than their names, so I paid close attention during the debate to see how they compared to their running mates.
The first question opened the floor to Senator Kaine; Quijano asked specifically what about his “qualities, skills, and temperament” make him a good vice presidential candidate.
Temperament came up during the Presidential debate last week, with Trump claiming that Clinton does not have the “temperament” to be President, and Clinton retorting that Trump’s temperament is not presidential.
Both vice presidential nominees have a temperament very different than their running mate. Senator Kaine began as a polished politician, he has a long track record of public service, and explained why he supports Clinton over Trump in this election. When Pence began to speak, he did not, as Trump did last week, just directly into a retort, but rather took the time to thank both Quijano and the University for hosting the event. Pence displayed this calm demeanor throughout the majority of the debate, which is a stark contrast to Trump’s rather blunt and brass retaliations.
Senator Tim Kaine, on the other hand, displayed a much more aggressive demeanor. He interrupted Governor Pence countless times throughout the debate, including a few times (which he apologized for) that Quijano had to remind him that Pence was allowed his own two minute response without rebuttal. This is in contrast to Clinton last Monday who interrupted Trump far fewer times than the reverse scenario.
Both Trump and Clinton have good reasons why they have picked running mates with specific temperaments. Trump has been criticized for his relatability, his rash, and aggressive nature, and his lack of compassion. The Republican who spoke last night at the debate was a man trying to show that he was relatable, was humble, and believed that he can help the American people. Trump made a very smart move in choosing Pence as a running mate. This Governor with a soft voice, and family and faith oriented values could go a long way in enticing the traditional Republican voters, as well as softening the image of Trump.
Kaine is a smart choice for Clinton because of just the opposite. He was aggressive and relentless on his attack of Donald Trump, his beliefs, and his policies. He may bring the Clinton campaign the strength that many voters are afraid she lacks. Kaine commanded the debate, and used quotes and a few insults to display a dominant Democratic ticket. One note I found especially true to this point was his mention of his own gun ownership. With the National Rifle Association’s endorsement of Donald Trump, many gun owners have turned away from Clinton. But Kaine spoke directly to that fact, noting that he owns guns and supports the 2nd Amendment. Kaine spoke extensively about the military and strength, all of which are tools that can be used to win votes from those worried that Clinton will decrease defense and weaken America, both at home and abroad.
This debate was not quite as clear cut as the debate last week in terms of a winner and a loser. Both candidates spoke with intelligence and a purpose. Quijano did an excellent job of keeping the candidates both on time and on target, forcing them to answer specific questions about both their own plans and the plans of their running mates. Kaine seemed much more prepared for the debate, quoting facts, statistics, and Donald Trump himself, while Pence beat around the bush a few times, not wanting to give a binary answer on some of Trump’s more hotly disputed statements. However, the aggression the Kaine displayed may make Pence more attractive to older voters.
Both candidates made some good and some bad remarks throughout the debate. It will be important to continue to watch them as they support their respective candidates, and whether they go far in projecting a popular view of their ticket.