Last night’s debate was overwhelming, to say the least. Moderator Elaine Quijano had a hard time controlling Kaine as he interrupted Pence consistently during the debate. Hillary’s VP pick was on the constant attack, which kind of made him look like a whiny baby who just crapped his diaper. Here are the highlights.
The vice-presidential debate took just minutes to turn into a debate on one man – Donald Trump.
Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, started the hostilities in his opening statement, and signaled that he would make attack Trump the theme of the night – then drove home insult after insult by interrupting Mike Pence, his rival, and the moderator, Elaine Quijano.
In no time he was ticking off a list of rhetorical body-slams Trump has used in the 16 months of his presidential campaign.
And across the 90 minutes, he was estimated to have interrupted up to 70 times, a figure come up with by the Republican National Committee. Other estimates were lower – but the trend was clear.
At one point he labeled Trump a ‘fool or a maniac’, generating a rebuke from Pence: ‘That’s pretty low, even for you.’
The first snap poll – for CNN – suggested that Trump had benefited more from the debate than Clinton.
A focus group of Ohio voters for CBS News was more damning of Kaine with one man calling him ‘a jerk’.
Donald Trump’s son Eric classified Kaine’s performance as ‘annoying,’ while Clinton’s team of surrogates were deployed to the spin room to push any style criticism back.
His opening statement set the tone on Trump. ‘He’s called Mexicans “rapists and criminals”,’ Kaine said. ‘He has called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don’t like saying that in front of my wife and mother.’
‘He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican. He went after John McCain, a POW, and said he wasn’t a hero because he was captured. He said African-Americans are living in hell. And he perpetrated this outrageous and bigoted lie that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.’
‘If you want to have a society where people are respected and respect laws,’ Kaine complained, ‘you can’t have somebody at the top who demeans every group that he talks about. And I cannot believe that Gov. Pence will defend the insult-driven campaign that Donald Trump has run.’
CBS correspondent Quijano didn’t give Pence an opportunity to respond, but the Republican vice presidential nominee created his own opening while discussing illegal immigration.
‘I was listening to the avalanche of insults coming out of Senator Kaine a minute ago,’ he said. ‘He says ours is an insult-driven campaign? Did you all just hear that? Ours is an insult-driven campaign?’
‘To be honest with you,’ Pence said, turning to Kaine, ‘if Donald Trump had said all the things that you said he said – in the way you said he said them – he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a “basket of deplorables”.’
‘She said they were irredeemable, they were not American. It’s extraordinary,’ he said.
Kaine listed his litany a second time, saying Clinton had apologized and demanding to know if Trump had done the same.
Pence sniffed that Clinton had only said she was sorry for saying ‘half’ of Republicans were deplorable.
HILLARY’S EMAILS GO CENTER STAGE
In a debate episode about cyber security, Pence went on offense to tie the topic to the now-infamous unsecured and secret email server that housed all of Hillary Clinton’s electronic communications while she was secretary of state.
‘We have got to bring together the best resources in this country to understand that cyber warfare is the new warfare of the asymmetrical enemies that we face in this country,’ Pence said.
‘I will also tell you that it’s important in this moment to remember that Hillary Clinton had a private server in her home that had classified information on it about drone strikes.’
Quijano cut in as soon as he said the word ‘classified.’
‘Governor, your 30 seconds is up,’ she intoned.
Pence continued: ‘Emails from the President of the United States of America were on there. Her private server was subject to being hacked by foreign powers.’
‘We could put cyber security first if we just made sure the next secretary of state doesn’t have a private server.’
Kaine defended Clinton be falling back on an FBI investigation that concluded Clinton behaved ‘recklessly’ but not criminally.
‘A full investigation concluded that not one reasonable prosecutor would take any additional step,’ the Democratic nominee scolded his opponent.
‘You don’t get to decide the rights and wrongs of this. We have a justice system that does that.’
Pence, unmoved, turned personal, while Quijano struggled to he heard asking a question about Syria.
‘Senator, if your son or my son handled classified information the way Hillary Clinton did, they’d be court-martialed,’ he said.
‘That is absolutely false, and you know that, governor,’ Kaine shot back. ‘That’s absolutely true,’ Pence said quietly, taking the last word.
HIGH EMOTION AS FAITH AND ABORTION RAISED
Tuesday’s debate, the only meeting between the two presidential understudies, was billed as a quiet, policy-driven affair.
But emotional fireworks took off when Pence brought up partial-birth abortion while talking about the impact of his Christian faith on his work in government.
Both men are personally pro-life, but Kaine has embraced Hillary Clinton’s pro-choice position as her number-two.
‘For me, the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief – that ancient principle – where God says, “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you”.’
‘And so for my first time in public life, I sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life. Society will be judged by how it defends its most vulnerable – the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn.’
Pence also said he agonized over the idea of partial-birth abortion, a late-pregnancy procedure that terminates the life of a fetus and then extracts it from the womb in anatomically recognizable pieces.
‘What I can’t understand is with Hillary Clinton, and now Senator Kaine at her side, is to support a practice like partial-birth abortion,’ Pence added.
‘The very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them, is just anathema to me,’ he said.
Kaine mocked Trump and Pence for not ‘trusting women’ to make the agonizing decision whether to terminate a pregnancy.
‘We trust American women to do that and we don’t think that American women should be punished,’ he said.
Trump said in March during an MSNBC town hall event that abortion comes with a ‘punishment’ for women – a remark that he later said was a misstatement.
Pence said the words came out wrong at the time because Trump is ‘not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton.’
KAINE’S INTERRUPTIONS TO QUESTION TRUMP’S TAXES
Kaine, the serial interrupter, used several of his interjections to bash Trump for failing to produce his personal income tax returns.
Quijano asked Pence about a recent New York Times report that surmised Trump may have avoided paying income taxes to Uncle Sam for 18 years, due to legal maneuvers that spread financial losses over many years’ returns.
Pence argued Trump exploited the federal tax code ‘just the way it’s supposed to be used,’ and teased Kaine – asking if he had personally taken every tax deduction he was entitled to.
Trump, Kaine responded, had promised to release his tax papers more than a year ago. ‘He’s broken his first promise,’ Kaine said.
‘Senator, he’s going to release the tax returns when the audit is over,’ Pence said – a now-timeworn pledge that is become less credible with just five weeks remaining until election Day.
Kaine also jabbed at Trump, who was watching 2,300 miles away in Las Vegas, for boasting during last week’s presidential debate that paying no income taxes in a year when he lost money would show that he is smart.
‘So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to pay for our veterans?’ Kaine asked. ‘It’s smart not to pay our teachers?’