The 2016 Vice Presidential Debate: First Impressions + My thoughts


This year’s vice presidential debate was a big excuse to learn more about the vice presidential candidates. I, like any average (perhaps stereotypical) American did not know much about either of the Vice Presidential candidates, mainly because I was too busy paying attention to the Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This meant that for me, watching this debate was of great importance, and the remarks of both candidates during the debate would paint my first pictures of each.

So what effects did these first pictures have on me? Well on one end we have Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine, who, unfortunately for him, came across as a jerk. For one he kept interrupting Mike Pence over and over again, whereas Pence did so far less, and for a shorter amount of time during the debate. Kaine also wasn’t particularly impressive in any way and just (this is where conservative bias sets in) seemed like an ordinary democrat. Granted that is better than Hillary’s radical leftism and corruption, but not by a lot. I guess this lack of impressiveness is because of my engrained pictures of Democrat (ordinary politician trying to push the usual messages of equal opportunity, equality, fairness, etc.) and Conservative (Specifically American conservative, where I think of many different people but all of them trying to stand up for the traditional values and principles of America, many of which are my values too). Kaine also failed to use his zinger “If you don’t know the difference between leadership and dictatorship, then you should go back to a fifth grade civics class.” Kaine’s zinger stuck not because it was good, but because it was repeated multiple times during the debate. Zingers aren’t meant to be used more than once! Even if Kaine hadn’t used that zinger multiple times, it still felt over-scripted and weak.

On the other end we have Mike Pence, a soft-spoken, calm conservative who gave reassurance to those, including myself, who have inner doubts about a Donald Trump presidency. Even if the gamble known as Donald Trump becomes president and the results turn for the worse, Mike Pence will still be there. Pence also pulled off something that neither of the other three candidates could; being sincere. Of all of the candidates in the Presidential debates, Pence was able to seem the most sincere, and consequently, had an easier time connecting to people. Granted, he was only reassuring his base, but if pulled of well, that reassurance could bring disgruntled conservatives into the Trump fold. In addition Pence crushed Kaine in the early portions of the debate, and while Kaine used the same “zingers” repeatedly (admitting it), Pence always brought different dialogue to the table.

It’s clear that from the Vice Presidential Debate that Mike Pence was the winner. His calm and genuine demeanor made for a vastly superior debate performance compared to the over-scripted and irritating performance of Tim Kaine. Now onto the second question; which one of the absent candidates won the debate? Unfortunately Hillary Clinton was the victor in this category, mainly because while Kaine could land many successful hits on Donald Trump, Pence failed to land any successful hits on Hillary. Whether Pence’s failure is because of his calm, soft-spoken demeanor, because of bad timing, or simply not having many attacks on Hillary in his debate strategy, the lack of successful Hillary attacks, or at least the lack of memorable ones, makes Trump look worse. Pile that on top of Pence’s unwillingness to defend Trump (which was smart since Kaine tried to do what Hillary did last Monday) in many instances throughout the debate (note that he did defend Trump in some instances and was successful, at least from a conservative point of view), as well as Kaine mentioning Trump’s comment and Trump ends up looking like a loser without even being present.

Overall, Mike Pence’s performance was a relief that, in case Trump became president and ended up being a terrible president, we’d at least have a good Vice President. However while Pence prospered, Trump suffered from an onslaught of criticism from the Democratic side. But does this all really matter? My guess is that this debate won’t matter much, as with the last debate. But who knows, maybe this debate is a turning point in the election and we just don’t know it yet.