Update: CNN focus group of undecideds thought overwhelmingly that Kaine won. Pundits think otherwise. Go figure.
Bottom line: Betting odds didn’t move. We’ll see if anything changes over the next couple of days. But I think what just happened was that an other potentially significant event went by with no gain for the side that, going in, was trailing rather badly.
That’s a -30-.
Quick conclusion:I’d heard that Pence was stupid. Couldn’t have guessed that from his behavior tonight. Hard to recall a better defense of an indefensible position. Kaine about lived up to expectations. Scored some points, but no knock-out. On the other hand, Kaine was mostly telling the truth, and Pence mostly lying, about matters of easily ascertainable fact. So the question is whether either the media or the Clinton campaign make him pay a price for saying that he’d never praised Putin’s leadership when in fact he did.
10:34 How would you bring the country together? Kaine: Clinton worked across the aisle. Republican Senators speak well of her. After election today, you have to work together. Pence: Let me talk about how to bring us together by trashing some Demorats. “Change.” “American comeback.” “Resilience.” “Stand together.” Â Doesn’t actually said Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuehrer.”
10:27 Faith v. public policy. Q to Kaine. I’m a devout Catholic, but I shouldn’t try to make my faith the test of everyone else’s actions. I’m opposed to the death penalty, but I’d taken an oath and signed the death warrants. Â Pence: pro-life is pro-adoption. Partial-birth abortion. Hyde Amendment. No acknowledgement of any limit on how much of his faith he ought to impose on others. Kaine strongly defends right to choice. Quotes Trump on punishing women for abortions. Pence denies Trump believes what he says. Kaine: “Why don’t you trust women to make those choices for themselves?”
10:17 North Korea. (And yes, we’re going to get through one more debate without mentioning global warming or economic development or infectious disease or or or or or …)
Pence says “peace through strength.” Clinton Foundation. Accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments. Trump’s Russian dealings are “baseless rumors.”
Kaine defends Clinton Foundation on its record and its accomplishments. Moves to Trump Organization and the Trump Foundation. Cites Trump’s sons for the claim that the Trump Organization does business as Russia. Bondi bribe: Trump University.
Pence: “Less than 10% of the Clinton Foundation budget goes to charitable causes.” 33,000 emails.
Q to Kaine: Would you pre-empt a North Korean nuclear strike on the U.S.? Ans.: You’d need to defend yourself, details to be determined case-by-case. Need to work with and against China. Trump owes money to the Bank of China.
9:59 Q to Pence. Syria. Pence blaming Clinton for being too weak on the “small and bullying leader of Russia.” (No, seriously. Â Heard it myself.) Rebuilding our military. More ships. More troops. Back to Aleppo. “Safe zones.” “Provocations by Russia need to be met by American strength.” We should be willing to use American military force to strike Syrian targets. Â Missile defense shield (???).
Kaine: Yes, security zone. Clinton can stand up to Putin. Trump admires Putin. Quotes Trump. Points out that Trump had to fire his campaign team to get rid of the Russian connection. If you can’t tell a leader from a dictator, you need fifth-grade civics. Not paying taxes is not supporting the troops.
Pence: The weak and feckless foreign policy of Obama and Clinton has awakened the Russian bear. “We just need American strength.” Can’t answer the question about how the safe zones would be kept safe. No-fly zone. Weak and feckless again.
Kaine: What would make the world really dangerous is for more nations to have nuclear weapons. Pence’s fee-fees are hurt. “That’s even beneath you and Secretary Clinton.” Back and forth on the Iran deal. “Ransom payment.”
Pence denying that Trump ever said that other countries should get nuclear weapons. Kaine back on Trump’s dealings with Russia. Pence now denying that Trump has said virtually anything that he ever said.
Q to Pence: Trump says Putin doesn’t respect Obama. Why would he respect Trump? “Strength.” Weak and feckless again. Now Pence denying that Pence said what Pence said about Putin. Â Pence is a much more convincing liar than Trump, but there’s tape on all of this.
9:52 Q to Pence: extreme vetting won’t get at home-grown terrorism. What are you going to do about that? Pence goes back to extreme vetting. Suspend the Syrian refugee program. Moderator tries to re-ask the question. Â Pence keeps ducking. Kaine points out that the Court of Appeals just struck down Pence’s plan as unconstitutional. Â Kaine insists on danger rather than religion or national origin as the basis for vetting. Pence: “can’t know for certain,” so keep ’em all out.
Q to Kaine: What in the hell is an “intelligence surge”? Hiring more experts, partnering with private cyber-security. Alliances are critical. That’s why it’s a bad idea to say “NATO is obsolete.” Pence says cyber-warfare is warfare. Private server. Â Yelling back and forth about the FBI investigation. Moderator drowning.
9:47 Terrorism. Better or worse? Kaine: better in several ways, worse in others. Bin Laden again. al-Baghdadi is next. Shared intelligence. “Donald Trump can’t start a twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot.” Accuses Trump of “trash-talking the military,” admiring tyrants, promoting more countries getting nuclear weapons. Quotes Trump “Go ahead folks, enjoy yourselves.”
Pence: We’re less safe. Weakened place in the world. (Keeps ducking Kaine’s challenge to defend Trump’s nonsense. Back to blaming Hillary for not negotiating the SOFA that Bush failed to negotiate. Accuses Clinton and Obama of losing Iraq after it had been won. Sacrifices “squandered.” Iran deal.
9:40 Immigration. Should non-criminal aliens be deported? Pence denounces “open borders” and “amnesty.” Points to ICE union’s endorsement of Trump. Accuses Clinton of running an “insult-driven campaign.” “Basket of deplorables.” Kaine points out that Hillary apologized for “deplorables,” while Trump has never apologized to anyone. Back to immigration: “bipartisan immigration control” v. “deportation nation”: going “house to house, school to school, business to business,” to deport 16 million people. Pence denounces “amnesty.” “A nation without borders is no a nation.” Asked about deportation. Ducks. “The focus has to be on criminal aliens.” Never says what he’d do about the rest. Once the wall has been built, then he’ll think about it. Kaine quotes Trump: “They will all be gone.” Defends a nation of immigrants. For the third time mentions Mexicans-as-rapists and Judge Curiel. Pence doesn’t respond.
9:30 Finally a smart question: Are we asking too much of the police? Kaine points out that Richmond reduced homicide rates by half when he was Mayor. Talks about community policing. Denounces militarization and stop-and-frisk. Mental health care reform. Gun control. This is my home area, and if I’d been writing his answer it would have been about the same. Far more sophisticated than you’ll hear from most politicians.
Over to Pence. His uncle was a cop in Chicago. He loooooooooves cops. Likes community policing. (Yes!) Now back to “law and order.” Fraternal Order of Police. Denounces any mention of “implicit bias” or “systemic racism.” (That would surprise every police chief I know.) “Stop seizing on these moments of tragedy.” (As if his running-mate didn’t do so constantly.) Â Kaine points out that bias is real. Pence says since one police shooter was black, that couldn’t have reflected bias. (No, he really said that.) Moderator cites Sen. Scott, Pence backs off. Pence says he’s all for “criminal justice reform.” Accuses Clinton of “assuming the worst” about people in law enforcement. Doesn’t play the Willie Horton card. Defends stop and frisk. Kaine segues into all the Trump bigotry, ending with birtherism.
9:26 Fresh idiotic question from the moderator, assuming that “the Social Security fund is going to run out of money” in 18 years.
Kaine defends Social Security, denounces Social Security privatization. Wants to raise the payroll tax cap.
Pence says he and Trump are committed to “meeting the obligations” under Social Security and Medicare. Says Democratic plans would leave the country “drowning in debt.”
9:17 New idiotic question from the moderator, assuming that “the national debt” is a problem. Pence brags about his record as governor, slams Kaine as a tax-raiser. War on coal. Says Clinton wants to expand Obamacare into single-payer. (Pretty sure that’s a lie.) Â Pence does a solid job of presenting Trumpism without the Trumpish hysteria.
Kaine contrasts “you’re fired” with “you’re hired.” Brings out a reasonable-sounding laundry list. Hits Trump on “Wages are too high” and Pence on opposing minimum wage increases. Blames Great Recession on Bush tax cuts for the rich, which is clearly false. Says if Trump “kept his promise” and released his tax returns, we’d see that Trump’s plan was “Trump first.”
Moderators asks Pence about Trump’s non-payment of taxes. Pence changes the subject. Says everything is terrible. Kaine says it isn’t, cites statistics. Pence dismisses “the numbers” and appeals to the feelings of people in Scranton and Ft. Wayne. Says Trump built a business and NOL is just hunky-dory. Kaine cites Trump’s claim that not paying taxes was “smart,” asks whether that makes everyone else stupid.
Moderator desperately trying to keep control.
9:05 pm First question, an intolerable nothing-burger: “What makes you qualified to be President if the need arises?” Kaine launches into his stump speech, leading with the story of a school boycott lead by a schoolgirl 65 years ago, near the venue of the debate, that led to Brown v. Board of Education. Says he has a kid in the Marines and he trusts Hillary as Commander-in-Chief but the thought of Donald Trump in that role “scares us to death.” Pretty strong opening.
Over to Pence. Attacks “the last seven-and-a-half years.” Has he looked at Obama’s job performance numbers recently? (+11 in the Gallup tracker, +17 on CBS.)
Moderator asks the idiotic “Why do people distrust Hillary?” question, singling out emails and the Foundation. Kaine was sitting on that pitch, knocks it out of the park. Turns the question to Trump’s trustworthiness: Mexican rapists, birtherism.
Pence gets the other version of the same question: Why do “Americans” find Trump untrustworthy? Pence goes to “failed foreign policy,” answering neither half of the question. Blames “Russian aggression” on Obama/Clinton. Â Kaine interrupting. Mentions Trump’s “spectacular business career.” Turns back to Clinton Foundation.
Kaine ready with a strong defense of foreign policy, starting with “Are you aware that when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, Osama bin Laden was alive?” Exchange to Kaine on points, I would say.
The excitement is unbearable. But the RNC feels your pain. Two hours before the debate, Team Rience put out a Tweet sayingÂ “The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate.” To renew my offer: I’ll stop calling the Republicans “Orwellian” when they stop using Nineteen Eighty-Four as an operations manual.
Daily Beast offers a good question for Pence: Indianapolis has a higher murder rate than Chicago. Why haven’t you been able to change that?
Here’s mine: Why did you write an article saying “Smoking doesn’t kill?”
Watching CNN. Trump spox A.J. Â Delgado seems to be saying that voters should ignore Trump’s crazy Tweets. Â As a good a strategy as any, I suspect.