If Trump vs Hillary was likened to the Superbowl, then the vice presidential debate was more akin to an after-school Rounders game. With almost 50% of the country not even knowing their names. VP candidates Mike Pence (Republican) and Tim Kaine (Democrat) have been in the shadows of their more controversial frontrunners. The debate was hosted at Longwood University, a fact which was not immediately apparent to Republican Mike Pence who named the wrong School when thanking them.
Overall the debate had a consistent theme, the moderators would repeatedly bring up the controversial aspects of Hillary and Trump, and the candidates would take turns doing everything they could to avoid talking about Hillary or Trump. Despite the handicap of having Trump as his running mate, Mike Pence actually came across very strongly throughout the debate. Governor Pence’s calm and slow manner of talking contrasted the more fast paced and erratic speech of senator Kaine, this made Pence appear more knowledgeable and in control even when the actual substance of his answers was weak.
Another mistake from the Democrat campaign was focussing on attacking Trump over Pence himself. Mike Pence’s sketchy voting record regarding LGBT issues was largely ignored in favour of attacking Donald Trump. It was clear the the debate brief to senator Kaine had been to discredit Donald Trump as much as possible under the assumption that Pence would slip up trying to defend him. But Pence didn’t take the bait, he didn’t defend or attack Trump, simply sidestepping each attack and discussing his own policy views. This made Kaine look petty and Pence look presidential.
As the debate went on Kaine’s frustration at being unable to pin Pence down began to show and he started interrupting more and more, repeatedly bringing the debate to inaudible bickering. The final nail in the coffin for Tim Kaine was a leaf from Hillary’s playbook, trying to be funny. Tacking blatantly soundbite style lines like “Do you want a you’re hired president in Hillary Clinton or a you’re fired president in Donald Trump?” onto the ends of his answers made his persona seem scripted and forced, and was further hindered by the fact that he would speak them word by word in a robotic style.
Fortunately Tim Kaine had one silver lining to the night, in that almost no one cared. As mentioned before these candidates are completely in the shadows of their frontrunners and with some new Trump gaffe no doubt on the horizon (called it) this whole event will soon be forgotten. In summary the Republican Mike Pence hit it out the park with a clear victory, but it won’t make any difference because very few Americans actually watched it happen.
(Image courtesy of Andrew Gombert)