Kaine at­tacks, Pence fights back in VP de­bate

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Julie Pace and Thomas Beau­mont

FARMVILLE, VA. >> Vir­ginia Sen. Tim Kaine ag­gres­sively chal­lenged In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence over a long list of Don­ald Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial po­si­tions and state­ments Tues­day night, draw­ing a vig­or­ous de­fense from the Repub­li­can No. 2 on Trump’s tax his­tory. But Pence left Trump’s de­mean­ing com­ments about women, Barack Obama’s cit­i­zen­ship and broader ques­tions about tem­per­a­ment go largely un­chal­lenged.

Pence and Kaine, who have re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion in a race fo­cused on Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton, faced off for 90 min­utes in the only vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate of the cam­paign.

With the close White House race per­haps start­ing to tip in Clin­ton’s fa­vor, Pence out­lined a de­tailed con­ser­va­tive agenda on tax pol­icy, en­ti­tle­ments and im­mi­gra­tion. He was strik­ingly more pre­pared and more de­tailed in his an­swers than Trump was in last week’s first pres­i­den­tial de­bate. He was also more con­sis­tent in paint­ing the Demo­cratic ticket as ca­reer politi­cians un­will­ing to shake up Wash­ing­ton.

“Hil­lary Clin­ton and Tim Kaine want more of the same,” Pence said.

There was a strik­ing dif­fer­ence in the two men’s man­ner. Kaine, Clin­ton’s usu­ally easy­go­ing No. 2, went on the at­tack from the start, re­peat­edly in­ter­rupt­ing and chal­leng­ing Pence. Pence, an equally ge­nial politi­cian, was un­flap­pable.

Kaine pres­sured Pence to an­swer for some of his run­ning mate’s provoca­tive state­ments, us­ing Trump’s own words such as dis­miss­ing some women as pigs or slobs. He also chal­lenged Pence on Trump’s de­ci­sion to break with decades of cam­paign tra­di­tion by not re­leas­ing his taxes.

“Don­ald Trump must give the Amer­i­can pub­lic his tax re­turns to show he’s pre­pared to be pres­i­dent, and he’s break­ing his prom­ise,” Kaine said.

Asked about re­ports that Trump might not have paid any fed­eral taxes for years, Pence said his run­ning mate “used the tax code just the way it’s sup­posed to be used, and he did it bril­liantly.”

Records ob­tained by The New York Times showed Trump suf­fered more than $900 mil­lion in losses in 1995 that could have al­lowed him to avoid pay­ing fed­eral in­come taxes for as many as 18 years.

Kaine, too, de­fended his run­ning mate’s weak­nesses, chiefly the pub­lic’s ques­tions about her hon­esty and trust­wor­thi­ness. He said that while Trump was “self­ish,” Clin­ton had de­voted her ca­reer to help­ing chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

On na­tional se­cu­rity, Kaine re­vived Trump’s fre­quently flat­ter­ing com­ments about Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

“He loves dic­ta­tors,” Kaine said. “He’s got like a per­sonal Mount Rush­more: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Moam­mar Gad­hafi and Sad­dam Hus­sein.”

Pence tried to flip the ta­bles by ac­cus­ing Kaine’s run­ning mate of stok­ing Rus­sia’s bel­liger­ence.

“The weak and feck­less for­eign pol­icy of Hil­lary Clin­ton and Barack Obama has awaked an ag­gres­sion in Rus­sia that first ap­peared in Rus­sia a few years ago,” Pence said. “All the while, all we do is fold our arms and say we’re not hav­ing talks any­more.”

On crim­i­nal jus­tice, Kaine ar­gued that Trump’s em­brace of “stop and frisk” style polic­ing was a mis­take. Pence ar­gued that Clin­ton has used po­lice shoot­ings to ar­gue that there is “im­plicit bias” in po­lice de­part­ments, and he said the Democrats should “stop seiz­ing on these mo­ments of tragedy.”

Kaine quickly shot back: “I can’t be­lieve you are de­fend­ing the po­si­tion that there’s no bias.”

Kaine and Pence are far less fa­mil­iar to most Amer­i­cans than their run­ning mates, who are among the most well-known fig­ures in the coun­try. Both vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates have spent years in pol­i­tics, are well-liked by col­leagues and are deeply re­li­gious.

While their per­for­mances were un­likely to dra­mat­i­cally change the way vot­ers view Trump and Clin­ton, the na­tion­ally tele­vised de­bate was nev­er­the­less a spot­light op­por­tu­nity for to in­tro­duce them­selves to Amer­i­cans, en­er­gize party loy­al­ists and po­ten­tially sway the shrink­ing pool of un­de­cided vot­ers.

Tues­day’s con­test was the only time Kaine and Pence will face off in this elec­tion, while Trump and Clin­ton tan­gle in three con­tests.

Clin­ton was widely viewed as the win­ner of her open­ing de­bate with Trump, rat­tling the real es­tate mogul with jabs about his busi­ness record and de­mean­ing state­ments about women, and re­spond­ing to his at­tacks with calm re­join­ders. New pub­lic opin­ion polls have showed her im­prov­ing her stand­ing in nearly all bat­tle­ground states.

At least some of Clin­ton’s bounce is likely at­trib­ut­able to Trump’s con­duct com­ing out of the de­bate. He re­dou­bled his crit­i­cism of a beauty queen and her weight, one of the top­ics Clin­ton raised in the de­bate, and went on a pre-dawn Twit­ter tirade try­ing to dis­par­age the for­mer Miss Uni­verse.

While Trump has five weeks un­til Elec­tion Day to re­gain his foot­ing, early vot­ing is al­ready un­der­way in some states.

The vice pres­i­den­tial show­down at Vir­ginia’s Long­wood Univer­sity was mod­er­ated by Elaine Qui­jano of CBS News. While last week’s first pres­i­den­tial de­bate was watched by a record-set­ting tele­vi­sion au­di­ence of 84 mil­lion peo­ple, Tues­day’s con­test was ex­pected to have smaller view­er­ship given Pence and Kaine’s lower pro­files in the cam­paign.

Trump watched the de­bate from his Las Ve­gas ho­tel and couldn’t re­sist a piece of the night’s spot­light, promis­ing to live-tweet the pro­ceed­ings from his famed Twit­ter ac­count.

He weighed in with a few short thoughts — in­clud­ing “Both are look­ing good! Now we be­gin!” and then “@mikepence is do­ing a great job - so far, no con­test!”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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

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