CHARLOTTE, N.C., October 6, 2016 — One candidate tried to argue the issues in the vice presidential debate on Tuesday while the other simply made himself the issue. In the end, Tim Kaine may have won the debate by losing it.
In the aftermath of the debate, which was really a repetitive talking head commercial by Tim Kaine doing his best to avoid discussing anything relevant, the former governor of Virginia may have succeeded in achieving exactly what he wanted to accomplish.
The water cooler discussions across the country Wednesday probably focused on Kaine’s 72 interruptions during a 90 minute event. He largely kept Mike Pence from presenting the issues in a clear manner, forcing him to talk through background chatter. The Hillary Clinton camp avoided for one more day the need to confront any issue that could derail her tightrope walk to the presidency.
Much like her former boss, President Obama, Clinton takes each day as it comes, now treading water until the November election. Each day she can get behind her reduces the number of opportunities for Donald Trump to retaliate.
The moderator, whose inexperience the Clinton team used to their advantage, lost control of the event from the outset. Pence was often drowned out despite his winning performance.
Kaine had one purpose: to disrupt the proceedings. He threw in some buzzwords now and then when he was talking over Pence. Say “taxes” over and over again and it matters little what the context is. All that counted was the connection between Donald Trump and the IRS.
Kaine never intended to debate; had the discussion actually gone to the issues, he was far and away outclassed by Pence.
Pence went to a debate, while Kaine went to a reality game show with prepared one-liners that fell flat and the goal of creating chaos to avoid any serious discussion.
For those viewers who looked at the two candidates as potential presidents, Pence clearly held the upper hand. He may the most presidential personality of the four people running.
The real question is whether the Kaine smoke-screen worked or whether it backfired. For many voters, there is no question that Kaine’s antics were a losing proposition, but their votes probably belong to Trump anyway.
The strategy of keeping the issues out of the limelight with lowest-common-denominator, irrelevant arguments is a risky gambit for Clinton, though.
Two more presidential debates remain. Clinton’s scandals, her foundation and Julian Assange have not yet hurt her badly beyond the wall of distrust they’ve put between her and the voters, but it is, after all, early October. An October surprise is probably waiting to explode in a candidates’ face, and it could easily be hers.
For the moment, Pence did his job for Donald Trump in high style. But Kaine also accomplished his goal, even while he was losing the non-debate.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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