The vice presidential debates over the years, according to NBC political analysts, have never made a large impact on the outcome of an election. Despite this analysis, the debate went on as scheduled, starting in the late evening hour of nine-o-clock on Oct. 5 with Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana taking to the debate stage at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., both setting for themselves the goal of defending their running mate and presenting their policies.
Controversy had surrounded the Donald Trump campaign days before the debate started in which three documents leaked to the New York Times stated that presidential nominee Donald Trump had supposedly paid nothing in federal taxes for 18 years – from 1995 to 2013 – which accumulates to about $50 million in lost revenue for the federal government per year. This is in addition to his brand losing over $900 million in revenue in 1995, a statistic that Hillary Clinton would point out in her rally speech on Oct. 3, saying “…what kind of a genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?”
The New York State Attorney General also ordered the Trump Foundation – Donald Trump’s personal charity fund – to cease the collection of all donations in the state as they were not legally registered to do so. The controversy surrounding the Trump Foundation began almost nine months ago, when Trump decided to raise charity funds for veterans instead of attending the Fox News Republican Nomination debate. The Trump Foundation was also investigated for keeping the funds to itself instead of distributing them to charity.
Also regarding The Republic Party, the official Republican National Convention (RNC) website published stories of Mike Pence being the “clear winner” of the Vice Presidential debate hours before it even began with some stories on the main site stating “Top 5 things Tim Kaine Wasn’t Asked.” This is not even the first time the RNC has done this; according to NBC, on the election night of the 2012 Presidential election between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, the RNC published a draft of the “President-elect Mitt Romney” website and accidentally made it public.
Armed with this slew of knowledge, Kaine entered the debate with prepared blows he could make against Pence and his running mate. Kaine quoted Trump many times throughout the debate, often repeating the business mogul’s seemingly hateful words towards Mexicans, women, and Muslims. In fact, Kaine’s attacks were seen as relentless by debate-watchers. In a post-debate poll conducted by CNN, Kaine’s favorable rating declined 12 percent, with Pence’s favorability rising by 7 percent. In fact, debate-watchers thought Pence overall was the winner of the debate, with 48 percent of those taking the poll siding with him over Kaine who polled at 42 percent, with the remainder being undecided. Most likely, voters praised Pence’s resolve and calm demeanor and were largely turned off by Kaine’s almost constant battering of the Trump campaign.
Kaine was also bashed by political analysts from several news outlets for his seemingly demeaning nature towards the debate moderator, Elaine Quijano. Kaine interrupted Quijano several times and intruded on Pence’s allotted statement time on numerous occasions, effectively breaking the debate procedures that were agreed upon beforehand.
One of the great themes of the evening was Pence’s accusation that Clinton was running an “insult campaign” when confronted with claims made by Kaine about statements said by Trump that were well publicized. Pence seemed to sometimes outright deny some statements made by Trump that were well covered by all media outlets, including the famous line of “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…they’re sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” which was said by Trump at the beginning of his campaign in Jul. 2015.
The meat of the debate consisted of a variety of topics including presidential leadership, law enforcement, race relations, immigration, national defense, foreign relations and conflicts, and finally the role of faith in government. Throughout the night, Kaine and Pence would often detract from the main topic and discuss other topics instead, such as Trump’s racially offensive comments as mentioned before, Clinton’s email scandal, and the clashing ideas between Pence and Kaine concerning taxes and the economy. The derailment of the debate was so severe that, at one moment, Quijano interjected with “Governor (Pence), I will let you respond [to Kaine’s comment]…but I again will remind you both this was about North Korea.”
As stated before, the vice presidential debate has never been a point of contention in the long term results of a presidential election and the results of the debate most likely will not shift support even by a few points towards either candidate. The next major event in this election will be the presidential debate between Clinton and Trump, taking place on Oct. 9 at Washington University, Saint Louis, Mo. The final debate taking place Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.