At V.P. Debate, Everyone Wins But Trump
Tim Kaine wore a red tie at the Vice-Presidential debate in Virginia on Tuesday night, and Mike Pence a blue one, and those colors offered a pretty good reading of the emotional temperature of the night: Kaine ran hot, while Pence was cool.
In his opening statement, the Democrat was a chaos of motives: he tried, in a rush, to introduce himself, to make reference to a local civil-rights leader, to praise his running mate, and to signal the instability of Donald Trump, and it all got tangled in an anxious scrum. Pence was polished and clearer, and he quickly assembled a simple case for his and his running mate’s candidacy, arguing that the country was less prosperous and the world less secure than they’d been eight years ago, and that electing Hillary Clinton would mean keeping current policies in place. Kaine tried to push back. “Governor Pence doesn’t think the world’s going so well, and he is going to say it’s everybody’s fault,” Kaine said. Here, Pence cut in sharply. “Do you?” he asked. There was a flicker, at this point, of an alternative debate, one that Republicans had been looking forward to long before Trump got in the race, in which they could run against Clinton by running against the status quo. In the early going, Pence accused Clinton of being behind a “war on coal” four times—possibly with the voters of southern Ohio in mind. But Pence’s interest in this approach was only temporary, and soon that alternative debate faded away.
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