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October 4, 2016: Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s pick for vice president, and Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s choice, shook hands as they entered the stage in Longwood University, Virginia. The moderator, Elaine Quijano asks Kaine the first question of the vice presidential debate. First thoughts? This will be intense.
Both candidates had the pressure to deliver. After the first presidential debate, which Clinton won according to CNN polls of debate-watchers and the consensus of their focus group, each VP hopeful knew what he had to work on. Both were confident because of their extensive preparation, but the approaches couldn’t have been more different.
Tim Kaine is known as the nice guy. He’s not typically the kind of politician who is aggressive or over-bearing. Kaine clearly prepared to be more confident and have a presence in the debate, however it was too much. By interrupting Pence so frequently, Kaine did the exact opposite of what he should have accomplished. His primary focus should have been to bring up Trump’s past wrongdoings and, most importantly, to make Hillary Clinton likeable and trustworthy. While the substance of what Kaine said seemed reasonable, and he successfully attacked Trump, his persona was unappealing and did not change the opinions of those who think that Clinton and Kaine are untrustworthy.
Mike Pence won the debate, but only barely. Pence, like Kaine, is typically calm, and he showcased his personality in the debate by not getting over-excited. But he had a rocky start. His speech wasn’t clear at all times, nor was it particularly eloquent. Another thing to note is that every time Kaine brought up one of Trump’s previous inflammatory comments, such as those in Twitter fights in addition to what Trump has said about Mexican illegal immigrants and even senator McCain, Pence never defended Trump. This can have two effects. One could be that the people who thought Trump’s comments unappealing would be relieved that Pence doesn’t agree with him. But others may have less faith in the Trump ticket because of the disunity.
All in all, the first, and only, vice presidential debate was certainly eventful, but whether it will have any significant impact on the election is uncertain. The second presidential debate is on Sunday, October 9.