The Vice Presidential Debate took place Tuesday at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine (D) and Mike Pence (R) took turns answering questions proposed by host Elaine Quijano of CBS.
The debate consisted of nine segments, each 10 minutes long, focusing on domestic and foreign policy.
Kaine was granted the floor first, answering how he would fulfill the role of president in a worst-case scenario. Kaine said Hillary Clinton’s administration is “about making lives better,” and Clinton believes he is a strong running mate because he has “served in all levels of government,” including mayor, governor and senator seats and civil rights legal services.
“My primary role is to be Hillary Clinton’s right hand person and strong supporter as she puts together the most historic administration possible.”
On his opponent, Kaine said Pence, and the idea of a Donald Trump administration, scares him “to death.”
“We trust Hillary Clinton, my wife and I. And we trust her with the most important thing in our life. We have a son deployed overseas right now in the Marine Corps right now. We trust Hillary Clinton as president and Commander-in-Chief.” Pence said, “But the idea of Donald Trump as Commander-in-Chief scares us to death.”
Pence then had the floor to answer the original question, asking why he would make a good president, if he was called to the position. He said he brings “a lifetime of experience, a lifetime growing up in a small town, a lifetime of where I served in the Congress of the United States, where I lead a state that works, in the great state of Indiana.”
Quijano then asked the candidates why the American people were reluctant to trust Clinton.
Running mate Kaine said Clinton has a passion and focus on serving others, while empowering women and children. He said she puts others first, a “sharp contrast” to Trump.
“There’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton, and that’s because they are paying attention,” Pence said.
Pence then had the floor to answer why Trump would make a better president. He called Clinton’s running an “insult-driven” campaign toward Trump. He also criticized Clinton’s foreign policy tactics as Secretary of State under the Obama administration.
The candidates took turns proving how their presidential running mates would improve the state of foreign affairs and policies.
Quijano took the floor to steer the debate back on course, asking how each vice presidential candidate planned to improve the country’s economy. She said studies showed each senator’s plans would not reduce, but add to, the national debt.
Pence said he, under the Trump administration, he would fight to lower taxes for working families and the middle class while ending the war on coal. He said he would also repeal Obamacare and executive orders from the Obama administration, as the orders were “stifling economic growth in this country.”
Pence continued, saying his plan would “put American workers first,” as he hopes to grow the economy first, then focus on tackling the national debt.
Kaine took the floor to explain his plans for economic success in the United States. He referred to Clinton as a “you’re hired” president, while Trump was a “you’re fired” president, a play on words from Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice.”
Kaine said he and Clinton were working on “You’re Hired Plan,” consisting of five components to bettering the economy. The first step was to invest in manufacturing, infrastructure and research of clean energy to create new jobs. Second, Kaine proposed investing in the workforce, supporting Americans from pre-kindergarten levels to a debt-free college plan.
The plan also promotes fairness by raising the minimum wage and supporting equal pay for equal work between men and women. Kaine said he hopes to have Americans working full time and able to live above the poverty line. Next, he said the plan calls for support for small business growth. Lastly, the fifth step hopes to relieve taxes for the middle class and small-business owners, while increasing taxes for the wealthy.
Kaine said Trump had a “You’re Fired Plan,” only consisting of two steps. The first, to eliminate the federal minimum wage. The second, to order massive tax breaks for the wealthy.
Pence rebutted, stating Trump was a businessman, not a politician, and his business empire has created “tens of thousands of jobs.”
This was the opening ground for Kaine to ask about Trump’s tax returns.
Pence said while Trump may have avoided paying some taxes, he paid payroll and property taxes, among others, for his business empire.
Kaine recalled during the presidential debate when Trump said not paying his taxes made him “smart.”
“So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to play for veterans? It’s not smart to pay for teachers?” Kain asked. “So I guess all of us that do pay for those things are stupid.”
Quijano intervened in the chaotic debate, reminding the candidates “people watching at home cannot understand either of you when you talk over each other.”
The next question focused on social security benefits in the United States and how each vice presidential candidate plans to replenish the funds for the elderly.
Both Kaine and Pence agreed social security was a pressing matter and showed full support for the benefit.
“Social security enables people to retire with dignity,” Kaine said.
He proposed an upward adjustment on the payroll tax cap, while Pence suggested cutting taxes and forming government programs.
The debate soon shifted to the topic of police relations in America. Kaine said America, as a society, tends to put a lot of the country’s issues on police’s shoulders.
“The way you make communities safer, and the way you make the police safer, is through community policing. You build the bond between a community and the police force, and build bonds of understanding,” Kaine said.
He then noted Trump’s support of the “stop and frisk” agenda that was ruled unconstitutional in New York. Kaine then called the enforcement of stop and frisk “a big mistake.”
Pence interjected, saying “community policing is a great thing,” but that Trump is focused on restoring “law and order” to America.
Plattsburgh State criminal justice student Brian Surman said Pence did a better job on addressing law enforcement and community relations than Kaine.
“I think Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president, did a great job debating. He brought up some good points, especially about how we don’t need to retrain the police, unlike how Hillary’s vice president said,” Surman explained.
Quijano then asked candidates about illegal immigration in America, and how their respective running mates plan to handle the issue.
Pence said he and Trump had the endorsement of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency because “they know they need help to enforce the laws of this country.”
He also said a priority of the Trump administration is to “remove criminal aliens and remove people who have overstayed on their visas.”
Kaine then took the floor to describe the Clinton administration’s plans regarding illegal immigration.
“Keeping families together is the top goal,” he said. The second goal is to focus enforcement on those with violent backgrounds. Third calls for more border control and fourth calls for “providing a path to citizenship to those who work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules and take criminal record background checks,” according to Kaine.
The following segment focused on terrorism, both domestic and foreign.
Kaine said because Clinton was a New York senator on September 11, she is the “only candidate who can beat terrorism.” He also said it is crucial to work with allies to share intelligences.
He also alleged Trump has his own “personal Mount Rushmore,” consisting of dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Saddam Hussein, among others, because he “loves dictators.”
Pence disagreed and shifted the conversation toward cyber warfare.
“Cyber warfare is the new warfare of the asymmetrical enemies we face in this country,” Pence said. He also referred to Clinton’s email scandal.
The candidates then spent some time discussing foreign affairs and ally relations, particularly the crisis in Syria and mounting military tensions throughout Russia.
Pence suggested developing “safe zones” in Russia’s path, especially in Syria.
Kaine said Clinton has gone “toe to toe” with Russia in the past, working together to reduce Iran’s nuclear stockpile.
“You have to be tough on Russia. So let’s start with not praising Vladimir Putin as a great leader,” Kaine said. “Donald Trump and Mike Pence have said he’s a great leader.”
He also said America should wonder about Trump’s admiration of Putin. He said Americans should worry about Trump pushing his own agenda versus America’s agenda.
“I’m just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign on the other side of the table,” Pence said of Kaine’s comment.
Pence then said Clinton’s number one priority was a “reset with Russia,” that ultimately lead to Russia invading the Ukraine.
He also said Putin would respect a Trump administration, over Clinton’s, because of its strength.
“If you mistake leadership for dictatorship, and you can’t tell the difference, you shouldn’t be Commander-in-Chief,” Kaine said of Trump.
Quijano asked both candidates how they would handle nuclear-tensions with countries such as Iran and North Korea.
Pence said America needs to rebuild its military modernize its nuclear forces. He also said America needs an “effective diplomacy” to pressure Kim Jong Un to abandon his nuclear development.
Pence also pointed out Clinton’s acceptance of funds in her private foundation from foreign donors and governments, which is prohibited as means to be involved in American politics.
Kaine said the Clinton Foundation is one of the highest rated charities in the world, receiving higher ratings than the Red Cross. He said an investigation proved Clinton’s actions regarding foundation funding was in the best interest of America.
Kaine said the Trump Foundation was illegally contributing funds to a political campaign for a Florida Attorney General.
“This is the difference between a foundation that does good work and a secretary of state who acted in accord with American interest,” Kaine said, “and somebody who is conflicted into doing work around the world and won’t share with the American public what he’s doing and what those conflicts are.”
Pence said the Clinton Foundation has been a platform for the Clinton’s to travel the world, but Americans would know more about her spending habits if she released her emails.
Quijano steered the conversation back to the original question of handling nuclear threats from North Korea, to which Kaine said America may have to learn to cooperate with China to achieve the upper-hand in the situation.
“Hillary understands that very well. She went once famously to China and stood up at a human rights meeting and looked in the eye and said ‘women’s rights are human rights,’ they didn’t want her to say that, but she did. But she’s also worked on a lot of important diplomatic deals with China and that’s what it’s going to take,” Kaine said. “The thing I would worry a little bit about is that Donald Trump owes about $650 million to banks, including The Bank of China, and I’m not sure he could stand up so tough to the people who have loaned him money.”
The next debate segment focused on candidates’ stances on social issues, including religion and its influence on each candidate’s public life, the death penalty and the abortion versus pro-life debate.
Pence took a pro-life and pro-adoption stance, stating taxpayers money should not be used to fund abortions, but Kaine said women should be allowed to make a choice based on their own personal beliefs.
“The very last thing the government should do is have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices.” Kaine said, “And that is the fundamental difference a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket.”
Pence disagreed with Kaine’s claim, saying the Trump administration would never punish a woman based on her reproductive choices.
Kaine said it is important to support life, but to also trust women to make their own choices for themselves.
The last question of the night asked how the candidates would unite the country, after winning the election, and reassure those who voted against them.
Kaine said Clinton has a record of getting things done “across the aisle” between Democrats and Republicans in regard to healthcare for children, veterans and first responders.
Pence said the potential to change the country’s direction is there, but America needs leadership to do so. He said the American people will stand taller under Trump’s promise to “make America great again.”
CNN polls said Pence won the debate, with 48 percent of the support, while Kaine followed closely behind with 42 percent of the popular vote among viewers.
“I think it’s fine to be a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent,” Kaine said, “but after election, the goal is to work together.”
Email Marissa Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org