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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
‘Avalanche of INSULTS’ Hurled in Debate
Socio-political commentary ... Seth McLaughlin and S.A. Miller
FARMVILLE, Va. | The vice presidential candidates introduced themselves to American voters Tuesday as they squared off in their only debate of the campaign — and quickly shifted attention away from themselves and toward the tops of their tickets.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said that was another example of a Democratic ticket campaigning on “an avalanche of insults,” rather than on the issues — then fired his own shots at Mrs. Clinton saying she represents a third term for President Obama.
“The last 71/2 years we have seen America’s place in the world weakened,” Mr. Pence said. “We have seen the economy stifled by more taxes, more regulations and a war on coal and a failing health care reform that came to be known as Obamacare. The American people know we need to make a change.”
The debate, held at Longwood University in Virginia, was supposed to be a discussion, with both men seated at a table along with host CBS reporter Elaine Quijano.
Neither Mr. Pence nor Mr. Kaine are particularly familiar faces to average voters. heading into Tuesday’s debate, polling showed more than one-third of Americans either didn’t know who they are, or didn’t know enough about them to form an opinion.
Mrs. Clinton’s team was working steadily to try to change that, using her Twitter account to post photos of Mr. Kaineand his family and asking supporters to “let @TimKaine know you’ve got his back tonight.”
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, kept control of his own Twitter account, giving Mr. Pence a brief pat on the back but spending more time bashing Mrs. Clinton and attacking CNN for “biased” coverage.
Still, his decision to pick Mr. Pence over the summer was a critical boost to Mr. Trump, who’d been struggling to win over the social conservatives that make up the core of the GOP base.
Mr. Trump assuaged the concerns of many conservatives over the summer when he tapped Mr. Pence as his running mate. Pro-life Republicans were particularly pleased with the choice, and some of them turned out for Tuesday’s debate.
Frances Bouton, a Catholic who drove nearly three hours from the Hampton Roads area to linger outside the debate, said Mr. Pence reassures her that Mr. Trump will fight for their cause.
“Pence is, for me, a committed Christian, he is pro-life, and we definitely stand for life,” she said.
Mr. Pence burnished his reputation as a conservative hero during his 12 years on Capitol Hill, where he caused headaches for GOP leaders by rallying against the Bush White House’s push for the No Child Left Behind expansion of federal education mandates and the Wall Street bailout of 2008.
He already has proven himself an asset by providing damage control after Mr. Trump got in a feud with a Gold Star family supporting Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Pence helped defuse the situation, reassuring crowds that he and Mr. Trumpunderstand how it caused offense and voicing sympathy for the parents’ sacrifice.
Mr. Kaine, meanwhile, has helped soften Mrs. Clinton’s image with a homespun style, and he’s brought some much-needed likability to the ticket.
Born to a Catholic family, Mr. Kaine served as a missionary in Honduras, graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as a civil rights attorney before making his way into politics. He served as mayor of Richmond, then as lieutenant governor and governor of Virginia, and has served in the Senate since 2013.
Mrs. Clinton’s choice of Mr. Kaine was also seen as evidence that she was intent on trying to keep the Old Dominion, once a reliably Republican state, in Democrats’ column after President Obama carried the state twice.
Mrs. Clinton has a 7 percentage point lead in polling in Virginia.
Questions about the health of Mr. Trump, 70, and Mrs. Clinton, 68, put added pressure on the relatively young vice presidential nominees to demonstrate they’ve got the gravitas to assume the top job in an emergency.
Both men have experience in Washington and in governor’s mansions, but the debate is their first major national showdown.
The first debate between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump last week was scored a win for the Democrats and helped reverse the momentum the GOP nominee had enjoyed for most of September.
Mrs. Clinton now leads by nearly 4 percentage points in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls. She also leadsMr. Trump in Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina, while Mr. Trump is leading in Ohio.
Both Mr. Kaine and Mr. Pence have been barnstorming the battleground states, with Mr. Pence logging a lot of time recently in Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Mr. Kaine making a number of stops in Florida and North Carolina.