Pence and Kaine spar in heated de­fense of tick­ets

In­ter­rup­tions and in­sults mark VP can­di­dates’ de­bate

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Halper and Noah Bier­man

FARMVILLE, VA. — In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence tried dur­ing Tues­day’s vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate to stanch the dam­age from dis­clo­sures that Don­ald Trump may not have paid fed­eral in­come taxes for two decades, in­sist­ing that his run­ning mate showed busi­ness acu­men when he de­clared a nearly $1 bil­lion loss.

“He went through a very dif­fi­cult time, but he used the tax code just as it’s sup­posed to be used and he used it bril­liantly,” Pence said. “Don­ald Trump has cre­ated tens of thou­sands of jobs.”

The state­ment came dur­ing the be­gin­ning of a fiery de­bate be­tween Pence and Vir­ginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the Demo­crat on Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ticket. The pair, de­bat­ing at Long­wood Univer­sity, fre­quently in­ter­rupted each other and ac­cused their op­po­nents of dis­hon­esty as they ar­gued over a range of top­ics, in­clud­ing for­eign pol­icy, the econ­omy, taxes, the fed­eral bud­get, crim­i­nal jus­tice and im­mi­gra­tion.

Pence at one point ac­cused Kaine and Clin­ton of lodg­ing “an avalanche of in­sults,” while Kaine ac­cused Pence and Trump of run­ning an “in­sult-driven cam­paign.”

Mod­er­a­tor Elaine Qui­jano seemed like a traf­fic cop for much of the evening, try­ing to keep the can­di­dates from talk­ing over each other and her.

Kaine prod­ded Pence re­peat­edly over Trump’s fail­ure to re­lease his full tax re­turns and mocked Trump for brag­ging dur­ing last week’s de­bate that not pay­ing taxes shows that he is smart.

“So it’s smart not to pay for our mil­i­tary? It’s smart not to pay for our vet­er­ans?” Kaine said. “It’s smart not to pay our teach­ers? So I guess the rest of us who do pay for those things are stupid.

“I can’t imag­ine how Gov­er­nor Pence can de­fend the im­pulse-driven, self­ish me-first style of Don­ald Trump,” he added.

Kaine called out Trump for de­mean­ing Mex­i­cans who cross the bor­der il­le­gally, ques­tion­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s birth­place and­lodg­ing ahost of other in­sults. But he also had to an­swer for Clin­ton, who has been dogged by ques­tions over fundrais­ing, paid speeches, and the pri­vate email server she used as sec­re­tary of state.

“There’s a rea­son why peo­ple ques­tion the trust­wor­thi­ness of Hil­lary Clin­ton,” Pence said. “And that’s be­cause they’re pay­ing at­ten­tion.”

Kaine said Clin­ton proved her trust­wor­thi­ness by com­mit­ting to help­ing oth­ers be­fore she en­tered pol­i­tics. And he raised his son’s mil­i­tary ser­vice to de­clare her fit­ness to lead the na­tion’s armed forces.

“We trust her with the most im­por­tant thing in our life,” Kaine said. “The thought of Don­ald Trump as com­man­der in chief scares us to death.”

But Pence was just as ag­gres­sive in at­tack­ing Clin­ton for fail­ures in the econ­omy and na­tional se­cu­rity dur­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s ten­ure. He ac­cused Clin­ton of plan­ning to sti­fle the econ­omy with high taxes and reg­u­la­tions.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple know that we need to make a change,” Pence said. “We see re­mark­able por­tions of the world … lit­er­ally spin­ning out of con­trol.”

Kaine coun­tered that Clin­ton helped start the process to cut a deal to halt Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram and worked in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion when Osama bin Laden was killed.

The two clashed again when the dis­cus­sion turned to law en­force­ment.

Pence took aim at Clin­ton’s and Kaine’s as­sess­ment that the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is be­set with in­sti­tu­tional racism. “Sen­a­tor, please, enough of this seiz­ing ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to de­mean law en­force­ment broadly” by charg­ing “im­plicit bias.”

Kaine ex­pressed in­credulity at Pence’s com­ment. “Those who say we should not be able to bring up or talk about bias in the sys­tem will never be able to solve the prob­lem,” he said. “I can’t be­lieve you are de­fend­ing the po­si­tion there is no bias.”

Kaine then piv­oted into an at­tack on Trump, recit­ing the GOP nom­i­nee’s de­mean­ing com­ments about Mex­i­can im­mi­grants, women and war hero John McCain, the Ari­zona sen­a­tor. “If you want to have a so­ci­ety where peo­ple are re­spected and re­spect laws, you can’t have some­body at the top who de­means ev­ery­body,” he said.

When the de­bate turned to im­mi­gra­tion, Kaine ac­cused Pence and Trump of plan­ning for a “de­por­ta­tion force” that would re­move mil­lions from the coun­try.

“They want to go house to house, school to school, busi­ness to busi­ness and kick out 16 mil­lion peo­ple,” Kaine said. Pence called the de­scrip­tion “non­sense.” He said his and Trump’s plan to strengthen the bor­ders and ag­gres­sively en­force ex­ist­ing laws con­trasts with the Demo­cratic plan, which he la­beled amnesty.

“They have a plan for open bor­ders,” Pence said. “They call it com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form on Capi­tol Hill. We all know the rou­tine. It’s amnesty.”

A strong per­for­mance by Pence was con­sid­ered cru­cial for Trump be­cause of his poor show­ing last week and a series of con­tro­ver­sies, in­clud­ing nsults of a for­mer Miss Uni­verse, the dis­clo­sure of a tax fil­ing that showed Trump may not have paid fed­eral in­come taxes and the sus­pen­sion of his char­ity foun­da­tion this week by New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man.

JULIO CORTEZ/AP

Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Gov. Mike Pence, right, ar­rives with Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Sen. Tim Kaine at the vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate at Long­wood Univer­sity in Farmville, Va., Tues­day.

JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IM­AGES

Mod­er­a­tor Elaine Qui­jano seemed like a traf­fic cop, try­ing to keep the can­di­dates, Gov. Mike Pence, left, and Sen. Tim Kaine, right, from talk­ing over each other and her.

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