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Anyone watching the debate between vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence with the sound turned off would probably declare Pence the winner. The Indiana governor simply looked more presidential, as if carved in granite. Even his hair was disciplined. He smiled bemusedly when Kaine attacked Donald Trump, which was every 10 seconds. And he would often stare directly into the camera, as if gently trying to reassure those viewers at home terrified of a Trump presidency.
Kaine, on the other hand, was a bit manic, constantly interrupting not only his opponent but also the moderator, CBS News’ Elaine Quijano. The Virginia senator frequently seemed to be looking away when Pence was talking (possibly a result of bad camera angles), like he was desperately searching for a way off the stage.
Not many people seem to care very much about the two candidates, with a recent ABC poll revealing that over 40 percent of Americans can’t even identify who the VP nominees are. NBC News helpfully provided biographical stats about the two men while they were speaking, as if they were competing for Miss America. But voters should be paying more attention, since both presidential candidates are either 70 years old or pushing it. Despite the medical reports describing him as a pinnacle of health, the perpetually red-faced, bloated Trump looks like a walking time bomb. And Hillary … well, we’ve all seen the footage.
Both Kaine and Pence fulfilled their assigned tasks, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Pence — who had so much about Trump to try and clean up that he might as well have been carrying a mop and bucket, strove to be the grown-up member of the ticket. And Kaine, despite his nice-guy demeanor that makes him perpetually resemble a suburban dad wearing an apron while flipping burgers at a barbecue, was the designated attack dog.
Indeed, Kaine used the majority of his allotted time reciting Trump’s words, not his own. At every opportunity, he quoted the GOP presidential nominee to damning effect. And he managed to get the issue of Trump not paying federal income tax into his answer to every question, whether it was about the national debt or Russia.
Pence dutifully refuted Kaine’s lobs, but he didn’t really seem to have his heart in it. He somehow managed to say with a straight face that the Clinton campaign, rather than Trump’s, has been “an avalanche of insults.” Commenting about the recent revelation of Trump’s massive financial losses, he said that the real-estate developer had “faced some pretty tough times 20 years ago,” as if Trump had nearly been evicted from the building that bears his name. He also claimed that Trump would indeed release his tax returns…just as soon as the IRS finishes its audit.
(Memo to the IRS: We all know that Trump has obviously gamed the system for years and well deserves to be audited. But how about doing us all a favor and letting it go until after the election?)
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