Oct 5, 2016 (VIRGINIA) The vice presidential debate delivered no knockout punch, but some interesting lines. It also gave us a debate that at times was out of control. We also believe that Governor Mike Pence (R) edged out Senator Tim Kaine (D) in domestic issues. It is not what the reality is at the macro level, but as Pence put it, the economy is not doing well in places like Scranton, New Jersey.
Pence might be wrong when he said that the economy is in trouble, but that message will resonate in the battle ground states where people have still to recover from the Great Recession. Though Pence did promise to go back to the policies that led to that crisis, as he was told by Kaine. Lower taxes though sound appealing to many Americans. The verbal jabs that Pence threw included the idea that the Clinton-Kaine campaign is running “an insult driven campaign.” This came back a few times, as Kaine reminded his opponent, and the audience, of the way his running mate, Donald Trump, has insulted almost everybody. This includes the insults that launched the Trump campaign, calling Mexicans “rapist.” Pence never defended that.
Kaine shined on two issues, the first was foreign affairs. While Pence kept calling the foreign policy of the present administration feckless and weak, in reality when he was asked about North Korea and their nuclear program, he tap danced around the issue. Kaine on the other hand, was asked if he would act preemptively if he learned North Korea was about to launch a nuclear tipped intercontinental missile at the United States, “a president has to take action,” he said. He has an obligation to protect the United States and act on the intelligence available. He also emphasized the importance of working within alliances to put pressure on places like North Korea, and that includes the very complicated relationship with China, which is now starting to get worried and acted in the Security Council with the rest of the world.
Pence was far less muscular, though repeated the United States posture of a nuclear free Korean peninsula. This is when Kaine hit him with his running mate’s stance on nuclear proliferation.
There was another point where Kaine did shine and that was with Social Security. He not only spoke of the need to protect the program for the elderly, and future generations. He also stated how he and his running mate intend to save the program. This is by raising the top rate of income at which taxes are paid. Kaine also pointed out that Pence was in the privatize social security bandwagon while serving in Congress, even after former president George W Bush gave up on that.
The response from Pence was that the Clinton\ Kaine ticket was a tax and spend party, and they represented that. Never mind taxing rates have not substantially changed over the last 8 years.
Vladimir Putin and Taxes
These two require their own subheading. The Russian reset and Russian aggression came up often during the debate. Pence accused the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton by extension, of being weak in the international stage. This weakness led to the aggression of the Russian bear, which has been hibernating. Pence recalled Ronald Reagan when he said that the way to deal with Russia is only with “peace through strength,” and investing in the armed forces and rebuilding a weak military.
Kaine kept going back to the tax issue, and hinted strongly that Trump has not only not paid taxes. Meaning he has not supported teachers, schools, the military or the war on terror, but he also referred to Paul Manafort and his dealings in the Ukraine. He hadd to be let go from the Trump team. Kaine heavily implied that Trump is in bed with Russia and has many conflicts of interests regarding this.
Like Trump, Pence accused Clinton of failing to leave sufficient forces in Iraq after the withdrawal. He ignored, and is counting on the short memory of the American people, that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was negotiated in the waning days of the George W Bush administration. He also ignored that Bush’s team also failed to negotiate a SOFA that would protect remaining American troops.
He is also ignoring that the Islamic State took form and shape during the Bush administration and launched it’s first attacks in the waning days of the Bush administration. Moreover, concerted action has cut the caliphate down by about half.
Race Relations and Police
Both men fundamentally agreed that community policing is the way to go. Pence did not try to push stop and frisk, but he did agree with Kaine that this was the way to go. What he fundamentally disagreed on was that there is any bias in how law enforcement does it’s job.
This is an issue that even four years ago was not part of the conversation. So the fact that both sides agree that something has to be done is a good thing. But there was still that major difference between the two parties. The issue of race and bias is one that is resisted by Republicans.
The last issue that both men talked about was abortion.
Kaine did state that as a democrat a public servant has no right to impose his views on others. Meaning, Roe v Wade is the law of the land and Democrats trust women to make that decision. Pence went into the old line that we need to create a culture of life. Though he denied that Trump has said he would punish women who had an abortion. This is not just a tricky issue, but one that truly resonates fully with women over 45 years of age, but does not with those under that age. Their mothers and grand mothers won that battle, and for many younger women that is simply not an issue.
The reason Pence edged out Kaine is that not only did Kaine repeat and interrupt many times, but quite frankly, Pence was unflappable. Kaine used the same tactic Trump used in the first debate, and tried to hook Pence. That did not work. He also tried to get Pence off his rhythm, again, it did not work. Pence is a better debater, and that is why he did edge out Kaine. That said, neither man landed a knock out punch. That said, when one fact checks the debate, Kaine had command of the facts. Style usually wins over facts though.