October 5, 2016
The polls are out for Tuesday’s Vice Presidential Debate. Some say Mike Pence won, while others show Tim Kaine carried the night. Amid all after debate narratives, Americans willing to vote in November must have one thing in mind, facts do matter in choosing the right person for President.
The debate we saw last night, presented two running mates with different views, one willing to defend the issues based on facts and the other unwilling to support his running mate and the campaign slogans that gave him the nomination. The question to the electorates, which one do you prefer to serve the nation, a candidate that stands by his campaign comments, or one that runs from it to lie his way to the White House?
While Governor Pence helped save the day for Donald Trump after his abysmal performance last debate, the Republican running mate succeeded only by throwing Trump under the bus, refusing to defend him, while Governor Kaine presented fact based arguments on Trump’s Gaffes during the campaign. Pence’s poise and stylistic approach may help breathe life into Trump’s campaign, however, the move to shy away from the facts and truth, will not play well with voters.
At Tuesday’s debate, Governor Pence presented new policy proposals that are far off from what people heard from Trump during the campaigns. When questioned by Governor Kaine about Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pence tried to differ himself from Trump’s views of the Russian leader, calling Putin “the small, bullying leader of Russia.” However, facts revealed Trump has praised Putin’s styles numerous times and embraced his leadership qualities as superior to Obama’.
Anyone following the campaigns would remember Trump’s insults and attacks on Mexicans, immigrants and his disdain for John McCain being captured in Vietnam among others. When Kaine asked the Republican running mate to defend those insults, Pence tried to deny Trump ever used such insults, while all facts show those were Trump’s campaign slogans. Instead of defending Trump’s comments, he said: “if Donald Trump had said all the things you said he said in the way he’s said them, it would still not compare to Hillary Clinton’s, “basket of deplorables.”
Pence chose to paint Clinton as the one running an “insult-driven campaign and when he had the opportunity to back his boss, he refused to support Trump’s stance and campaign rhetoric, a strategy that is unlikely to impress voters.
On abortion, Trump has said in the past “there has to be some form of punishment for women who have abortion.” But when pressed by Kaine, Pence backed away from the statement saying Trump is “not a polished politician.” While Pence is a career politician and a polished one, he failed to defend Trump’s position on abortion, which one could interpret as meaning he does not believe in anything Trump says or he lacks the courage to support Trump’s campaign policies.
When asked whether he believes countries like Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea should be allowed to have nuclear weapons as proposed by Trump, Pence claims Trump never said more nations should have nuclear weapons, but all facts on record show Trump has said those nations would be better off defending themselves with nukes.
In general, though, Pence presented a cool and eloquent representation at the debate, he failed woefully to defend Trump’s policies and it is unclear if voters are ready to give such ticket a free pass. In the next weeks before the election, the Trump campaign may need to explain the policy differences articulated by Pence and Trump, while that is not the case for the Clinton’ campaign.
On the winner of the debate, there is no doubt Tim Kaine won on substance and policy issues, while Pence won on poise, calmness and stylistic presentation. The only blunder Kaine committed was failing to control his frequent interruptions of Pence, a role not representative of Kaine’ personality. One would expect him to learn from Clinton’s debate against Trump but instead, he was over aggressive and unhinged with his performance.
Pence’s eloquent presentation may help steer Trump’s campaign in the right direction, it is unlikely to change voters’ view of Trump and the damage to his candidacy. The debate left many questions unanswered. How can a candidate fulfill his campaign promises if he can’t back his campaign comments and the facts? It is unclear if Trump and Pence agree on their campaign policies and to rob salt on the wound, people saw during the debate a running mate unwilling to admit or defend the facts as presented by his boss.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @san0670.