Tim Kaine interrupted Mike Pence repeatedly and pressed the Indiana governor to defend Donald Trump's controversial statements
Pence deflected attacks against him and Trump to instead hit Hillary Clinton
The next debate is between Trump and Clinton, Sunday at 9 p.m. ET
For one night, Mike Pence put a calmer, gentler face on the 2016 Republican ticket. And Tim Kaine’s pestering style helped him do it.
But the Indiana governor’s big night in Tuesday’s vice presidential debate might not transfer to his running mate, Donald Trump.
Kaine – Hillary Clinton’s number two – spent his night throwing all of Trump’s most politically damaging lines at Pence and asking him to explain them. For the most part, Pence passed, dismissing his “pre-done lines” and “insult-driven campaign.”
Here are five takeaways from the vice presidential debate:
Pence’s temperament wins the night
The Indiana governor – once a self-styled “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” radio host – was in full talk-radio mode Tuesday night.
Kaine, meanwhile, should switch to decaf.
His interruptions – one after another after another – were so distracting that it often detracted from the substance of the debate and made policy conversations hard to follow.
The Virginia senator was trying to mimic Vice President Joe Biden’s style against Paul Ryan in 2012 – but Kaine can’t pull off lines like “malarkey.” And Pence, who honed his skills reacting calmly to angry callers on his radio show, knew exactly how to deal with it.
An unflappable Pence benefited from the contrast and won the night – with 48% of those who watched it saying he had the best night, compared to 42% saying Kaine won, per a CNN/ORC poll of debate viewers.
Pence, however, had a different take when speaking about the debate Wednesday in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
“From where I sat, Donald Trump won the debate,” Pence said.
But Kaine gets in hits against Trump
Kaine was determined to spend the night throwing out as many of Trump’s controversial and incendiary remarks as possible, hoping that some would sink in for the large audience watching Tuesday night.
And at the same time Pence was accusing Clinton and Kaine of running an “insult-driven campaign,” Trump was on Twitter, attacking Fox News host Megyn Kelly and retweeting supporters who said Kaine looked like a “fool” and an “evil crook out of the Batman movies.”
Kaine spent much of the debate lobbing Trump’s own words at Pence.
At one point, Kaine accused Trump of “shooting himself in the foot” by attacking a Latina former Miss Universe; claiming to know more than the generals about fighting ISIS; trash-talking Sen. John McCain’s military service; supporting a “personal Mount Rushmore” of dictators and believing “the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons.”
Trump had indeed said those things.
Pence deflected, saying Kaine’s attack had “a lot of creative lines in it.”
And Kaine shot back: “See if you can defend any of it.”
Pence freelances on Trump’s foreign policy agenda
The vice presidential nominee split – sometimes in big ways – from the top of his own ticket.