With Hillary Clinton coughing and gagging for weeks before the first debate, and Donald Trump sniffing and sniveling during the debate, maybe we ought to take a close look at next Tuesday’s (Oct. 4) only vice presidential debate. If the elected presidential candidate keels over during the next four years, one of these two guys will become Chief of State. (Also, of course, as Trump said, if Hillary wins, “there’s nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”)

Related: Full VP Debate Details Available Here

Anyway, let’s look at the two guys who might be “a heartbeat away from the presidency,” according to a Politico comparison.

Both are known for their distaste for smash-mouth campaigning. Yet each will attack when cornered, and can go on the offensive when necessary. That’s how allies and rivals alike describe Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the presidential running mates who will go head-to-head in a single, high-stakes debate in early October. Pence, Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee, and Kaine, who will appear on Hillary Clinton’s ticket, aren’t likely to play the traditional attack dog roles. But each knows how to draw blood when necessary.

Kaine gave a hint of it in 2012, when he patiently laid back in the final debate of Virginia’s Senate race, waiting for his foe to make the first move.
“I want to be Virginia’s senator. Tim wants to be President Obama’s senator,” charged former GOP senator George Allen. “We deserve a strong independent voice, not an an echo.”

Kaine responded both casually and condescendingly: “I do not think it is anti-Virginia to support the president of the United States.” He followed the barb with a fusillade of numbers showing how partisan Allen was as a senator, ridiculing his claims of independence.

Pence has a famously disciplined and cautious style, marked by his rock-ribbed conservatism on fiscal and social issues. Kaine is a reliably liberal vote though also a deal-maker friendly with Republicans whose down-home style makes him instantly familiar to those who have just met him. . .

In preparing for the 2012 debate, Indiana GOP operative Eric Holcomb (and later lieutenant governor) played Democrat John Gregg and adviser Tom Rose played Libertarian Rupert Boneham. They gave Pence no warning of the questions they asked, and attacked the Republican in prep sessions in a manner far more aggressive than actually played out in the mild race.

“He kicked our butts. He came in and eviscerated both of us,” Rose said in an interview. “He doesn’t throw first punches. What he does is he rope-a-dopes and counterpunches.”

The liberal NewsMic offered a comparison of the candidates on several issues.

LGBTQ Rights
Pence, an evangelical Christian, isn’t just against both same-sex marriages and civil unions — he has a track record of sponsoring legislation with damaging implications for the LGBTQ community. . .Kaine, despite being hailed by the Clinton campaign as one half of a ticket with “unprecedented” support for the LGBTQ community, has a less-than perfect track record when it comes to gay rights.

Pence’s track record on immigration is roundly conservative, and include a sponsorship for a bill denying citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants during his tenure as a Congressman. . . Kaine, on the other hand, supports the same comprehensive immigration protections that Barack Obama has long advocated for, including the option for full citizenship for undocumented immigrants as long as they pay taxes and a fine for entering the country illegally.

Pence has long been one of the most vocal anti-choice crusaders in the United States, and has openly waged war on Planned Parenthood in his home state of Indiana. . .Kaine, meanwhile, despite being a devout Catholic who is personally opposed to abortion, has steadily voted in favor of policies supporting a woman’s right to choose. . .

CTV News gives a more succinct comparison:

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, 58

PREVIOUS JOBS: Civil rights lawyer, Virginia lawyer, mayor, missionary in Honduras
RELIGION: Catholic
VIEWS ON ABORTION: “Personally opposed” to abortion but supports the legal status quo
ETHNIC BACKGROUND: Irish and Scottish
FREE TRADE RECORD: Voted in Congress to oppose free trade barriers 67 per cent of the time, according to CATO Institute
POSITION ON GUNS: A gun owner who supports restrictions on combat-style weapons, high-capacity magazines etc.
INTERESTING FACT: Fluent in Spanish
CONTROVERSIAL POLICY: Cut funding for universities and colleges, causing tuition to rise in Virginia

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, 57

PREVIOUS JOBS: Admissions counsellor, lawyer, congressman, radio show host
RELIGION: Catholic
VIEWS ON ABORTION: Passed some of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws in Indiana
FREE TRADE RECORD: Congress oppose free trade barriers 66 per cent of the time, according to CATO institute
POSITION ON GUNS: Staunch defender of gun rights, says firearms make Americans safer, rated ‘A’ by National Rifle Association
INTERESTING FACT: Started life as a Democrat
CONTROVERSIAL POLICY: Signed a ‘religious freedom’ law allowing business to refuse services to same-sex couples

Although both candidates like to be “nice guys,” they may have to learn to hit hard Tuesday.

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence are both feeling more pressure to perform in their own vice presidential debate after Monday’s caustic contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. . .

“Man, you’ve really raised the bar. You put the kind of pressure on me that I like to really help my debate next Tuesday,” Kaine recounted telling Clinton in a speech to field organizers here.

Pence expressed similar sentiment, saying on Fox News he’s been dusting off his Capitol Hill experience to get ready to go toe-to-toe with the Virginia senator.

“Donald Trump raised the bar for his running mate last night,” Pence said.

From there, however, the two vice presidential hopefuls’ assessments diverged. Pence said that Trump took “command” of the stage while Kaine likened the GOP nominee to a heavyweight prizefighter on the verge of quitting.

“If you’re that rattled in the debate, try being president,” Kaine said. “Donald Trump was up on the split screen like a boxer ready to go down on a TKO.”

And finally, if you can’t really take things all that seriously, you can use the vice presidential debate as a drinking game.

Select Your Candidate–This is a game afterall, and games are more fun when you are competing. C’mon, you can’t all pick Donald Trump.

Listen for the Words on the List–Listen for YOUR candidate to say his/her specific words and listen for every candidate to say a community word. If ANY CANDIDATE says a community word, EVERYONE drinks

Take a Drink when you hear one–Because this may be a high scoring game, we define a drink as a gulp of beer or sip of wine or liquor. Know your limits and please drink responsibly.

The Candidates and their Drink Cues

Hillary Clinton—Family, Middle Class, *Cough*, Russia, Women, Together

Donald Trump–Tremendous, Believe Me, China. Failed, Excuse Me, Bigly (or Big League), [and sniff, sniff]

Community Words–Judgment, Plan. Reagan

Be sure to tune in during the debate to stream our real-time, drink-totaling magic scoreboard!

Most of you kids don’t know it, but W.C. Fields (an amazing old-time comedian, with a big, bulbous nose, known for his drinking) “ran” for president in 1940. One of his slogans was: “A man has to believe in something. . .I believe I’ll have another drink.”

So. . .Here’s to the debate, or Cheers, Prost, Sante, Skoal, Salud, Salute, Gan Bei, Kanpai, or the always popular: “Through the teeth. Past the gums. Look out stomach, here it comes!” Enjoy.

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Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

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