I’m a liberal, which at McQuaid is rare among students. I also am very passionate about politics, so I get in a lot of debates, arguments and shouting contests with students in my class. One often overlooked topic that I have debated some with my friends is the vice presidential debate.
Most people say there is no clear winner in this debate. Tim Kaine did a great job throwing all the stupid things Trump has said or done at Mike Pence and making Pence justify or explain them, but Kaine’s constant interruptions got annoying. Pence did a great job dodging Kaine’s attacks on Trump, but may have ended up making Trump look worse in doing so. Although this is tough to call, I believe there is a winner.
I will split this debate up into three categories where I will decide who wins in each. From there I will decide who wins the entire debate.
The debate tactics are some of the most important pieces to a debate. They are basically a candidate’s game plan and how to execute that plan. For Kaine, that game plan was to attack. He was constantly putting Pence on his heels and forcing him defend Trump’s comments. But Kaine overplayed that attack style, interrupting Pence a ton. Pence recognized this tactic and either dodged questions really well or shot back that Kaine was just using insults, a smart move because it takes the attention away from Trump and makes Kaine look bad. This was especially genius considering Pence wrote an essay negative attack ads. That being said, Pence responded a few times by saying “nonsense,” or just shaking his head, indicating that he really couldn’t defend himself or Trump there. This category is close and could go either way but I think Pence wins because of his defense and his counterattacks. Also Kaine made himself look like an annoying jerk with his constant interruptions. (For the record, I don’t think Tim Kaine’s an actual jerk, but he certainly looked like one.)
It’s very important that lies or false statements don’t get mixed in with true statements because then the truth has no meaning. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens at debates, especially this year. So my job in this category is to put meaning back into the truth by figuring out what is true and what isn’t (or at least who has more true statements). I used politifact.com, a fact-checking website. Politifact looked at 35 statements (on the website it says 32, but I counted responses) and categorized them into either true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, or false. Sometimes the site didn’t directly categorize a statement but explained well enough so that I could draw a conclusion. So Tim Kaine had ten true statements; five half true statements; one mostly false statement; two mostly true statements and zero completely false statements. Overall, Kaine stretched the truth a little bit but never said anything false. Mike Pence had three true statements; three mostly true statements; three half true statements; four mostly false statements and four false statements. So Pence made more false statements than true ones, which means obviously Kaine wins this category.
Pence did a great thing in this debate for Trump and their campaign. He made people excited for Trump. Many traditional conservatives who didn’t support Trump are now thinking there is an adult in the room. Pence expressed the same views as Trump, but instead he acted like a civilized adult. He rejuvenated the Trump base, giving them new life after Trump’s awful debate performance. He also made Hillary look evil. Even I got a little bit of the feeling that Hillary was “the bad guy” (this feeling lasted maybe two minutes, though, because Trump is, as I said, an idiot.) He made Hillary look bad by claiming that her campaign is based on insults. Pence backed this up with the example of Hillary saying “half of Trump’s supporters are deplorables.” So Pence had a lot of positive effects on his and Trump’s campaign that could be important as we move closer to November.
Kaine, if anything, helped Pence. Yes, he made Trump look bad with his comments, and, yes, he had more true statements, but most people are just going to remember how he interrupted Pence all the time and used “insults” to attack Trump. In the end, he made Hillary look worse. For these reasons, the winner in this category is obviously Pence.
For this debate, the winner is (unfortunately) Mike Pence. His tactics and overall approach to how Hillary has been campaigning got him the win. He made Trump’s campaign look reasonable to traditional Republicans and he pumped up the die-hard Trump fans. If there are any Trump supporters reading this, don’t think you have won. Trump has plenty of time to do more idiotic things.