I’m beginning this article on Monday morning in anticipation of the Vice Presidential debate which will be held Tuesday night. This will be one of my rare two part pieces which I plan on concluding after the debate and posting for 1am Wednesday morning. Here we go.
I’m expecting the debate to basically be a dud and have little impact on the election. It features two candidates largely unknown to the American public and is being held at a college almost nobody has ever heard of.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia is the Democratic nominee. Kaine is largely unknown outside his state including to political junkies. He is a moderate Democrat with two major qualities that attracted the Clinton campaign to him. He is not likely to put Hillary in a bad position by overstepping or committing a gaffe. He comes from and can carry the very important swing state of Virginia and its 13 electoral votes.
While largely unknown to most Americans, political junkies know the Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence. Pence is a far right winger who looks like a regular conservative Republican. Pence is a homophobe, xenophobe and somewhat disguised racist – just like much of today’s Republican base. He killed his personal presidential ambitions with the botched handling of an anti-gay bill in Indiana purported to be a religious freedom bill. While not a religious person myself, I do believe in the religious freedom guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and find those who hypocritically hide their hate behind religion particular distasteful. Pence was Tea Party or alt-right before the terms were coined and is to this day.
About an hour and a half before the debate commenced the RNC accidentally released a statement declaring that Pence won. It also proved to be erroneous. In my final analysis it was effectively a draw with both candidates achieving their primary objectives.
Before I get into the reasons I’m declaring a draw I must comment on the moderator, CBS’s Elaine Quijano’s performance. I feel she was the clear loser. She simply could not control the debaters. She only had two follow-up questions (one prompted by Kaine) and in the final analysis her questions seemed almost superfluous with the candidate simply saying what they wanted to – this was well beyond spin.
Both Kaine and Pence did a very good job of getting their talking points in. The “answers” to the opening question were little more than prepared opening statements. The same can be said of the last question; in fact Pence finally worked, “Make America great again,” into his statement.
Pence looked more relaxed and presidential. Kaine was obviously the smarter of the two and basically fact checked Pence in real time. I caught Kaine in one zombie lie; I couldn’t keep track of the number of Pence’s lies (I watched most of the debate barefoot). Pence certainly did a good job of reassuring Christian conservatives which is important since the Trump campaign is far from having consolidated the GOP base. Kaine made Hillary and himself look appealing to any undecided moderates who may still be out there. I’m not sure either physically presented an image that would entice younger voters. The issue of student loans never came up and the cost of college barely got a few second’s mention. Kaine did spend some time near the end talking about allowing women to make their own reproductive choices which may sway a few young female voters.
Interestingly Kaine was the first to invoke Ronald Reagan and the gospel (Matthew). I don’t think that will get too many conservative Republicans to cross over.
Kaine won on content (especially for those who knew the facts) while Pence won on style. Neither hurt themselves or their “boss”. While I was wrong about the debate being a dud I don’t think it will have much impact on the race. That’s my opinion; now we have to wait for the polls.
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