The vice presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence was livelier than anyone could have predicted. These two are normally relatively low profile individuals but this debate was quite an exception. The major themes of the evening included foreign policy, race relations in the United States, abortion, and Donald Trump’s taxes.
As far as foreign policy was concerned, Pence and Kaine were completely polarized. Kaine made multiple references to Trump’s association with Russia and his relationship with Putin, while Pence was quick to point out that Hilary was the head of foreign policy during a time were the treat of global terrorism become more imminent according to many conservatives.
In regards to race relations and police brutality, Mike Pence offered little substantive information about his intentions. Tim Kaine echoed, almost verbatim, the words of Hilary Clinton on community policing and gun control. Kaine, who identified as a gun owner and “strong supporter of the second amendment”, reminded the audience that he was Governor of VA at the time of the Virginia Tech massacre, which he claims could have been prevented by better background checks.
On issues of reproductive choice, Kaine has held relatively conservative views in his time as a democratic Governor. Mike Pence is known as one of the most ardent pro-birth advocates in the United States. He has successfully defunded abortion and sexual health providers in his state of Indiana. Pence made an attempt to cross the aisle and appeal to Kaine’s personal views on abortion rather than the policies he has advocated. Kaine responded by asking Pence why he refused to “trust women” in making their own medical decisions.
Finally and possibly most frequently motioned in the debate was the issue of Donald Trump’s taxes (or lack there of). It has been made public in recent weeks that Donald Trump has not paid income tax in more than 20 years. Tim Kaine constantly brought the conversation back to this point and forced Pence to come to Trump’s defense.
There was no clear victor in this debate but overall it seems possible that Pence may have been more successful due to his natural ability to neutralize what is coming form Trump. This is not a reflection on Pence’s actual abilities or understanding of anything but the unfortunate reality that even someone as radically conservative as Pence serves as a moderate voice compared to Trump.