Tonight is the first time that most American's will get a real introduction to Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. Up to this point, both VP candidates have largely been overshadowed by never-ending scandals, “medical episodes” and the various other circus acts to which we've been loosely referring to as the 2016 presidential election cycle. In fact, the VPs have been so largely overshadowed this election cycle that a recent poll found that 40% of Americans can't even name both of them let along articulate their resumes or policy stances.
With that said , here are a couple of our thoughts on how things could play out tonight…
First, the details:
Start Time: 9PM EST
Channels: All major broadcast and cable news stations
Location: Longwood University in Farmville, VA
Moderator: Elaine Quijano of CBS News
Format: The Vice Presidential debate will be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
And here are a couple of things to watch out for during the debate:
1. Can Pence effectively utilize the many Clinton scandals to put Kaine on the defensive or will he get drawn into defending Trump's tax returns all night?
Most of the “scientific” polls from the first Presidential debate suggest that Trump lost after going on the defensive over everything from his tax returns to a spat with a former Miss Universe over her weight fluctuations. Meanwhile, he seemingly failed to launch even one effective counter attack against Hillary despite her many scandals.
Pence will undoubtedly get questions about Trump's taxes, among other things, but the key for him will be whether or not he can launch effective counter attacks and convince voters that Trump's taxes are irrelevant compared to Hillary's scandals.
2. If pressed, can Kaine defend Hillary against attacks on her email and pay-for-play scandals?
Back in July Kaine made his first big mistake when he offered his own shocking indictment of Hillary's email practices by telling Chuck Todd of Meet the Press that “I can’t take classified information I get as a senator and give it to somebody with no consequence. Freedom of speech has reasonable limits.” Oops.
In this type of setting we would be shocked if Kaine would be able to recover from a similar gaffe.
3. Will the moderator play fact checker?
While its probably not as much of an issue in this debate, Lester Holt drew a lot of criticism, at least from the right, for “fact checking” Trump on the fly, especially when he offered up erroneous “facts” about stop and frisk laws. If Quijano decides to play an active role as the third debater tonight then recent history would suggest that Pence better be prepared for a 2-against-1 attack.
4. Does anyone care?
According to The Hill, polling from 1976 through 2008 found that no vice presidential debate has made any meaningful dent in the polls in the past 30 years. So the question will be whether one candidate can stand out enough to make a difference?
Live Feed: Let's Get Ready To Mumble…
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