On Tuesday, October 4, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence sat down together at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia for the one and only vice presidential debate. Pence and Kaine met for a ninety-minute debate moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. After the sniffles and shoulder shimmies of the first presidential debate, there were higher expectations for this discussion. Both candidates were given two minutes to respond to each question posed by the moderator. Candidates were also given approximately thirty seconds to respond to the other candidate’s statements; however, this time allotment was rarely observed. The audience was asked to refrain from applauding, which they surprisingly obeyed.
Throughout the debate, several recurring themes became prevalent. Both candidates often dodged the moderator’s questions and talked about their own campaign’s plans for America. Kaine avoided discussing Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and the Clinton Foundation’s controversies. Pence avoided discussing Trump’s temper and was often unable to defend the countless inappropriate statements made by Trump. These topics are on the minds of many voters, and it would have been beneficial for them to hear explanations directly from the candidates. Another topic that kept resurfacing was which campaign is more “insult-driven.” Both Kaine and Pence continued to claim that both campaigns thrived off of insulting the other. This argument led to many subtle digs at the opposing campaign that only caused the other candidate to get angry and spend their two minutes defending them. Each candidate made an attempt to outline some of their campaign’s plans regarding economic growth, terrorism, race relations, and immigration. However, when each candidate attempted to outline their plans, the other candidate repeatedly interrupted. These interruptions made the candidates’ arguments difficult to follow, which led to unrelated tangents. These tactics also made the candidates look like two bickering eight year-olds. If the two men had waited until it was their turn to respond, they would have appeared much more professional and more vice-presidential. Quijano attempted to stop the interruptions but did not do a very great job of keeping the men on task.
Kaine appeared well-rehearsed and ready to outline his campaign’s plans. He talked about how Clinton would work with both parties to get things done, which is appealing to Republicans who are hesitant to vote for Trump. Also, Kaine successfully incorporated things that he had done while in office as a member of the Senate and as the Governor of Virginia to combat many of the issues that are plaguing our country today. Lastly, he was able to mention the positive things that had been accomplished by Clinton in her thirty years of serving the American people. On the other hand, there were some negative aspects to Kaine’s performance. Kaine constantly interrupted Pence, roughly seventy times. While both candidates were guilty of interrupting each other, Kaine did it so frequently that it made him appear extremely rude. Also, Kaine failed to address many of the more controversial aspects of the Clinton campaign, like the email scandal, Benghazi, and the Clinton Foundation. It would have been beneficial for him to have spoken about them so that viewers could have heard his defense firsthand.
Pence appeared calm and collected, which made Kaine’s frequent attacks seem even more disruptive. News outlets who declared Pence the winner believed that these qualities caused Pence to appear as the winner of the debate. Pence successfully outlined where he stood on our nation’s current issues and gave evidence of things he did while serving as Governor and Congressman to help solve them. He also was able to address some of the Obama administration’s and Secretary Clinton’s shortcomings. He was able to highlight some of the points of the Trump campaign. While it was refreshing to hear the more relaxed and traditional side of the Republican ticket, the elephant in the room was still present. Pence was unable to defend several of Mr. Trump’s controversial statements and proposals. He avoided answering Kaine’s constant questioning of how could he defend Trump. He often denied that Trump ever made some of the statements that he had actually made. Overall, Pence could have been more successful in defending his running mate, which would have had a more powerful effect.
Ashley Crute, Associate Director of Career Services at Longwood University, got to see firsthand all the preparations for the debate at her workplace and alma mater. Crute says that Longwood began preparing very early for the debate. “We, as the volunteer team, started meeting in February and then over the summer hosted a volunteer draft to match students with placements of jobs that they could relate to,” explained Crute. She also described how the campus underwent a “major transformation.” She discussed how the school hired outside contractors to “add cable, TV, and WiFi to campus” to support all the media outlets. When asked about how the debate impacted Longwood and the town of Farmville, she said that “all of the visitors and extra people in town had quite a financial impact on the community… We saw over 5,000 freshman applications even before the debate and hope to continue to reap the benefits from the increased interest in the school from hosting.” Patricia Crute, a resident of Farmville and also a Longwood alumna, said that the town sent out in their water bills specific directions regarding parking, lists of events to attend, and security information. She stated, that “everyone in Farmville receives a water bill, so the town figured this was the most effective way to let its residents receive such important information.” Overall, the debate was beneficial to the town of Farmville, as well as to Longwood University.
In the weeks following the debate, both campaigns have continued to be “insult driven.” More emails from Secretary Clinton and her colleagues have been leaked. Most notably, a 2005 video was leaked of Donald Trump talking with an Access Hollywood reporter. In the video, Trump is heard making incredibly inappropriate statements about women, where he essentially jokes about sexually assaulting women. Trump has since apologized for these statements but he brushes it off as “locker-room talk.” Also, several women have come forward over the past few days claiming that they were sexually assaulted by Trump, which he denies ever happening. There truly is no telling what these next several weeks before the election will bring.