Bit­ter at­tacks dom­i­nate US vice-pres­i­den­tial de­bate

Kaine, Pence seek to high­light skills as men who could be heart­beat from pres­i­dency

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Far­mville, Vir­ginia

The two can­di­dates for US vice-pres­i­dent launched bit­ter at­tacks on the rep­u­ta­tions and poli­cies of Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump Tues­day dur­ing a fiery de­bate five weeks from Elec­tion Day.

Demo­crat Tim Kaine and Repub­li­can Mike Pence sought to high­light their ca­pa­bil­i­ties as the men who could be a heart­beat away from the pres­i­dency, but es­sen­tially they were on stage fight­ing a proxy war for their run­ning mates scrap­ping for ev­ery vote on Nov 8.

Polls show Clin­ton gain­ing in the wake of a pun­ish­ing week for her Repub­li­can ri­val Trump, who has been ham­mered by con­tro­ver­sies over his taxes and his treat­ment of women.

Kaine, a se­na­tor from Vir­ginia, took aim at Trump from the be­gin­ning, say­ing the idea of the brash Repub­li­can as com­man­der-in-chief “scares us to death”.

“I can’t imag­ine how Gov­er­nor Pence can de­fend the in­sult-driven, self­ish, me-first style of Don­ald Trump,” Kaine said.

Kaine sought to port ray him­self as a deeply ex­pe­ri­enced local, state and na­tional politi­cian who would be the “right­hand per­son” for Clin­ton, whom he de­scribed as trust­wor­thy and more than ca­pa­ble in the role of com­man­der in chief.

An im­per­turbable Pence, gov­er­nor of In­di­ana and a Chris­tian con­ser­va­tive, calmly shot back.

“You would know a lot about an in­sult-driven cam­paign,” he said, high­light­ing Clin­ton’s re­lent­less crit­i­cism of Trump and how she painted half of her Repub­li­can ri­val’s sup­port­ers as “de­plorables”.

“We see en­tire por­tions of the world, par­tic­u­larly the wider Mid­dle East, spin­ning out of con­trol. The sit­u­a­tion we’re watch­ing hour-by-hour in Syria to­day is the re­sult of the weak for­eign pol­icy that Hil­lary lead in this ad­min­is­tra­tion and cre­ate .”

For many Amer­i­cans, the de­bate was their first pro­longed ex­po­sure to the men who would be next in line for the pres­i­dency if their side wins in Novem­ber.

Tax re­turns

Pence is as mod­est and po­lite in style as Trump is brash and in­sult­ing, while Kaine, who also has a calm style on Capi­tol Hill, ap­peared to take a more ag­gres­sive stance than Pence in at­tack­ing the ri­val camp.

He sought to drill down on is­sues that ap­peared to have given Clin­ton a bump in the polls de­mand­ing Trump re­lease his tax re­turns and mock­ing the White House hope­ful for some of his im­pul­sive Twit­ter mis­steps dur­ing the cam­paign.

“Don­ald Trump can’t start a Twit­ter war with Miss Uni­verse with­out shoot­ing him­self in the foot,” Kaine said, re­fer­ring to Trump’s rants against Ali­cia Machado, a beauty queen whom he called “Miss Piggy” when she gained weight after win­ning her crown.

The two men re­peat­edly talked over each over as they clashed about Trump’s fail­ure to re­lease his tax records, so­cial se­cu­rity, how to han­dle an ag­gres­sive Rus­sia, and the prospect of mount­ing debt, forc­ing mod­er­a­tor Elaine Qui­jano to in­ter­vene.

“Se­na­tor Kaine could not stop in­ter­rupt­ing Gov­er­nor Pence,” Trump cam­paign man­ager Kellyanne Con­way told CBS news after the de­bate. “It was re­ally un­hinged and re­ally un­for­tu­nate.”

Kaine, 58, and Pence, 57, are about 10 years younger than the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees. They each have sons serv­ing in the US mil­i­tary, and they are seen as more re­li­gious than Clin­ton and Trump.

Trump has suf­fered from what has been seen as a medi­ocre per­for­mance in his first de­bate with Clin­ton, rev­e­la­tions of a $916 mil­lion loss in 1995 that may have meant he paid no taxes for sev­eral years and crit­i­cism of his de­mean­ing treat­ment of Machado.

Don­ald Trump can’t start a Twit­ter war with Miss Uni­verse with­out shoot­ing him­self in the foot.” Tim Kaine, the Demo­crat’s vi­cepres­i­den­tial can­di­date

KEVIN LAMARQUE / REUTERS

Demo­cratic US vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Se­na­tor Tim Kaine (right) and Repub­li­can US vice-pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Gov­er­nor Mike Pence pass each other after the con­clu­sion of their vice-pres­i­den­tial de­bate in Far­mville, Vir­ginia, on Tues­day.

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