Tonight Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine faced off in the first and only Vice Presidential debate of the 2016 election. It was more contentious, had more substance, and, almost inconceivably, may have seen more interruptions than the Presidential debate last week. But unlike last week, this debate had a clear winner.

WINNERS:

MIKE PENCE: There’s simply no question about it. Pence seemed calmer, he was more prepared to discuss his own policy views and get into details than Kaine was, and less interested in simply bashing the opponent’s running mate. Pence had several great lines. Possibly the best was when he blasted Kain’s cheap shot, saying “that’s beneath even you and Hillary.” (video here)

MODERATOR ELAINE QUIJANO: I know, a lot of folks will say she didn’t have control of the debate, but for the most part, she asked substantive questions or just kept quiet and let them bury themselves or each other. That’s who people want to hear from, not the reporter/moderator. That’s a win in my book. Despite moments like this:


LOSERS:

TIM KAINE: Irritated, irritating, interrupting, Kaine clearly lost this debate. He couldn’t manage himself. He was jumping on well-worn, nearly cliche anti-Trump talking points in the first 10 minutes. He tried to be an attack dog but came off more like a yipping pup nipping at the mailman’s heels. He also had some inexplicable talking points, like repeatedly claiming that the Iran Deal ended Iran’s nuclear ambitions forever. What?? His worst moment, though, was interrupting Pence to basically say “I saw 9/11 too!!” Just a terrible performance.

DONALD TRUMP: Yes, Trump still comes out a loser. Sorry. First, Pence winning only shows how truly terrible Trump was during his debate. Second, Pence stole Trump’s spotlight, and he hates that. He’s going to try to win it back. This is a guy who was upstaging his own hand-picked speakers at his own convention by going on the O’Reilly Factor during their air time and talking smack. He’s going to try to grab the spotlight, and almost certainly in the dumbest way possible. Third, as bad as Kaine was, the constant repetition of every awful thing Trump has ever said is a reminder of every awful thing Trump has ever said. For a worldwide(ish) audience, it’s a reminder they don’t get all at once very much.


A win for Pence doesn’t necessarily mean a win for Trump/Pence, but the embarrassingly bad performance by Kaine definitely reflected poorly on Clinton/Kaine. Overall, this debate proved that we can have policy discussions, while reminding people that Hillary and Trump didn’t, that this campaign can be about more than insults, while reminding people that Hillary and Trump traffic almost exclusively in insults, and that there can be some agreement on issues without betraying one’s party, while reminding people that both parties constantly betray their own voters and the American people in general all the time.

Quite the win/lose scenario.

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