Vice Presidential Debate, From Conservative and Liberal Voices

Rowan Harrity


Vice Presidential Debates are of little importance in the overall scheme of a presidential election. Vice presidential candidates have simple jobs—don’t embarrass themselves or their running mate. One of the biggest questions heading into this debate was whether Mike Pence would be able to withstand the barrage of attacks likely to be made on his running mate, Donald Trump. The dynamic of the debate took the form of attacker and attacked, with Kaine throwing out near-constant accusations, and Pence deflecting the blows. And though Mike Pence did not win the debate by any means, he showed his efficacy as a candidate for Vice President of the United States of America.

As Mike Pence would now be forced to publicly defend the long list of Trump’s controversial comments, many questioned just how he would execute such a daunting task. When faced with an attack asserting that Trump had been running an insult-driven campaign, Pence’s response was to pivot, and twist the attack back at Kaine, accusing the Democratic ticket of running a campaign propelled by insults. Pence’s method for maintaining distance between himself and the statements of his running mate was to twist, deny, dodge, and usually, some combination of the three.  

This debate produced an expected level of animosity and interjection between the two candidates. Kaine’s confidence instigated many sparring matches – and consequently he did not present himself as endearing as possible. Pence was able to maintain composure – even while defending statements he knew to be false, he displayed potential for a promising future in politics. Hillary Clinton can count herself lucky that next Tuesday she will face Trump on the stage, and not Mike Pence.  While I may say that Tim Kaine won the debate based on policy, I was impressed by how Pence handled himself in a steady and presidential fashion. I found this to be a refreshing change of pace in this odd presidential election.

When the issue of immigration made an appearance, Pence again wormed his way out of admitting the intention of deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants forcibly, and diverged to a the falsely perceived issue of immigrant-driven violence.

Despite his successful presentation of himself, Pence was not embarrassment free, as he had a very costly misstep, which immediately struck online controversy. Towards the tail end of the debate, when Kaine again attacked Trump’s statements about immigrants from Mexico, Pence responded with the hair-raising retort, “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.”

The Syrian refugee crisis was broached as well in the discussion of presidential immigration philosophies. The next President of the United States will determine just how many, if any at all, refugees will be granted asylum state-side, making this a pressing issue within the election. The topic of granting asylum has been subject to U.S. partisan politics and just two months ago a federal appeals court dismissed the speculations of a violent threat posed by Syrian refugees, which Pence used to justify the state’s refusal to accept any refugees at all.    

In light of recent civil unrest, the candidates participated in a discussion of law and order, justice, and reconciliation. The discussion followed similar lines as their presidential counterparts, but instead of refusing to acknowledge the notions of institutionalized racism and implicit bias, as Trump did in his debate on Sept. 16, Pence took a stab at laying out the campaigns view on the matter. He suggested that it was all “badmouthing;” that the tragic nature of police action shootings are being used to “accuse police of implicit bias and institutional racism.  Pence continued by insisting that this “really has to stop.” Thus, the GOP ticket subscribes to the idea that claims of racism are invalidated when an African American cop shoots an African American citizen; a premise that is as offensive as it is ignorant. This moment elucidates the importance of race-relations in this election.

It was only a few weeks ago that a major party Presidential candidate addressed implicit bias and institutionalized racism. Even more recently two vice presidential candidates debated matters such as the nature and evidence of ubiquitous bias or the existence of institutional and systemic racism in America. This open racial discourse, however limited by political candidates, exemplifies just how much impact the Black Lives Matter movement has had on the substance of national thought. To paraphrase Tim Kaine, fear of the conversation will bring no chance for remedy, and though the conversation remains to be one-sided, it is an encouraging step in a fight for equality

The inconsequential nature of vice presidential debates leaves its participants with one job: not to embarrass yourself or your running mate. This campaign is a war of attrition; the survivor will be whoever is less embarrassing. At the conclusion of this debate, it can be said that both accomplished this admirably.


Sara Sparks


Tuesday night marked thirty-four days until the election as well as the  vice-presidential debate of this election cycle. Elaine Quijano, an anchor at CBS, moderated the debate between Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Illinois Governor Mike Pence

Kaine began with a story pandering to the African-American community: Barbara Johnson, 65 years ago, protested school segregation. Barbara believed the country was stronger together, and that’s Hillary’s campaign slogan. Kaine said he was “proud to be running with another strong, history-making woman” who believes “women’s rights are human rights.”

Pence made a remarkably notable statement when the subject of Clinton’s trustworthiness came up: “There’s a reason why [the American] people doubt the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton, and that’s because they’re paying attention.” It’s definitely a challenging feat to try to push out of mind the email scandal, the Benghazi attacks, and the DNC email leak. But even more challenging is trying to accept the idea that Hillary is for women when she has spent so much of her time smearing her husband’s victims.

In a battle of wits and quick-thinking, it was obvious that Governor Mike Pence was more readily equipped, not only with policy, but the ability to defend his presidential candidate, than Senator Tim Kaine. Kaine interrupted Pence a total of 70 times, and was interrupted by Pence only 40 times. Kaine silenced the moderator multiple times, saying “But this is important.”  Kaine couldn’t stay on topic – he continuously deflected and distracted from the subjects at hand – whether questioned about Hillary’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, terrorism, and nuclear war. For someone who interrupted so often, there was not much substance to his sentences.

“The potential is there to really change the direction of this country, but it is going to take leadership to do it.” Pence said.

Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton back the administration that advocated for change. Unfortunately, the kind of change that was brought by the Obama administration – an administration that endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – was detrimental to the United States. Pence recognizes that Donald Trump is the type of candidate – an outsider, a businessman, someone who is not a career politician – to work in the best interests of the country. While Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine will drive our country to even more despair, Donald Trump and Mike Pence can make America great again.