VP Debate Takeaways: Kaine Challenges Pence to Defend Trump | NBC Southern California
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

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VP Debate Takeaways: Kaine Challenges Pence to Defend Trump

Pence tried to turn the tables on the Democratic ticket by presenting Kaine and Clinton as offering an "avalanche of insults" and casting Trump in the model of a traditional GOP candidate

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Vice presidential nominees Tim Kaine (left) and Mike Pence on stage at Longwood University on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Farmville, Virginia, when the pair debated for the only time in the 2016 presidential campaign.

    Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine repeatedly challenged Mike Pence during Tuesday's vice presidential debate, attempting to tie the Indiana governor to some of Donald Trump's most controversial statements about women, immigrants and foreign policy. Trump's running mate maintained a folksy, soft-spoken demeanor, even as he mounted an uneven defense of the New York billionaire.

    Rather than commenting on some of the GOP candidate's most inflammatory comments, Pence attempted to turn the attacks back on Kaine's running mate, Hillary Clinton, repeatedly questioning her trustworthiness and raising questions about her use of a private email server and her family's foundation.

    The two men engaged in a surprisingly contentious back-and-forth on the debate stage at Longwood University, a 90-minute exchange that introduced two little-known politicians to the national stage.

    Here are the top takeaways from Tuesday's vice presidential debate:

    Trump Booed Leaving New York Times

    [NATL] Trump Booed Leaving New York Times
    President Elect Donald Trump is booed as he walks through the lobby of The New York Times Building after a 75-minute meeting with Times journalists. The lobby of the Times building is open to the public, and a large crowd had gathered by the time he departed. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016)

    WHO'S ON STAGE?

    Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump.

    Most of the debate was dominated by people not on the stage: the presidential candidates. Rather than go after each other, the two men immediately took aim at the tops of their tickets.

    In his first response, Kaine took aim at Trump, saying the idea of the Republican nominee as commander in chief "scares" his family "to death."

    Trump Takes Meetings at His New Jersey Golf Club

    [NATL] Trump Takes Meetings at His New Jersey Golf Club
    President-elect Trump interviewed more than a dozen candidates for his administration at his New Jersey golf club over the weekend, including Mitt Romney, Rudy Guliani, Chris Christie and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, who has been tough on immigration, and others. (Published Monday, Nov. 21, 2016)

    Pence shot back, saying Americans were right to question Clinton's trustworthiness, citing her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. "That's because they're paying attention," he said.

    Neither Pence nor Kaine was pressed to defend any issues in their own records, including the policy differences they have with their running mates.

    PENCE THE IGNORER

    Kaine repeatedly tried to hold Pence accountable for Trump's most explosive statements, opening the debate by calling him "Donald Trump's apprentice."

    Pence did defend Trump over a New York Times report that Trump may have avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades. Trump, said Pence, used the tax code "brilliantly" during a "tough time."

    But for most of the debate, Pence simply turned the attacks back on Clinton, leaving hanging questions about Trump's criticisms of a federal judge, women and immigrants. Rather than defend Trump's foreign policy positions, he criticized Clinton's "weak and feckless leadership."

    At one point, Pence said he is "happy to defend" Trump, but then moved on to a discussion about Russia without addressing numerous issues raised by Kaine.

    Kaine kept a tally of Pence's dodges, announcing more than an hour into the debate that Pence had avoided defending Trump six times.

    Trump Holds Series of Meetings With Potential Cabinet Candidates

    [NATL]Trump Holds Series of Meetings With Potential Cabinet Candidates
    President-elect Donald Trump is holding a series of meetings all weekend with potential candidates at his New Jersey golf course as he continues to mull over dozens of positions in his upcoming administration. NBC's Chris Pollone reports. (Published Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016)

    TRUMP'S SOFTER SIDE

    Pence tried to turn the tables on the Democratic ticket by presenting Kaine and Clinton as offering an "avalanche of insults" and casting Trump in the model of a traditional GOP candidate.

    After Kaine recounted a series of controversial statements Trump has made about President Barack Obama, Mexican immigrants, women and other groups, Pence wondered incredulously, "Ours is an insult-driven campaign?"

    Pence offered softer rhetoric when describing the controversial policies at the core of Trump's campaign — his promises to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and an early vow to bar foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. He said Trump is eager to work across the aisle to toughen border security and support community policing.

    Clinton Reflects on Defeat: 'Never, Ever Give Up'

    [NATL] Clinton Reflects on Defeat: 'Never, Ever Give Up'
    Hillary Clinton is reflecting on her devastating defeat, acknowledging the difficulty of her loss for her supporters and urging them to persevere through the Donald Trump era. She is encouraging her backers to "never, ever give up."

    Making her first public appearance Wednesday evening since her emotional concession speech a week earlier, Clinton said: "It's up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer." (Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016)

    "He's not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton," he said when Kaine raised Trump's statement that women should be punished for having abortions.

    Even as Pence was defending Trump, however, the businessman was tweeting — and retweeting — insults. "Kaine looks like an evil crook out of the Batman movies," read one tweet that Trump re-posted to his account.

    FEISTY VS. FOLKSY

    The two vice presidential candidates took different approaches to the debate, with Kaine hectoring Pence on nearly every response. The Republican National Committee, eager to paint Clinton's typically easygoing number two as unlikable, kept a tally of over 70 interruptions.

    Pence took a different tack. Between attacks, he sprinkled personal stories and promises to work across the aisle— even offering damning praise for Clinton and Kaine.

    "Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine — God bless you for it, career public servants, that's great — Donald Trump is a businessman, not a career politician," he said.

    KAINE'S ZINGERS

    Kaine came packing — zingers, that is. He lobbed so many prepared soundbites that Pence called out his "predone lines."

    WATCH: Obama Welcomes Trump to the White House

    [NATL] WATCH: Obama Welcomes Trump to the White House
    President Barack Obama welcomed President-elect Donald Trump to the White House Thursday for a private meeting in the Oval Office. After spending roughly 90 minutes together the pair made a brief statement to reporters. Obama said he was "encouraged" by the wide-ranging conversation the pair had, adding that it's important "we call come together" to face the challenges America faces. Trump added that he "very much looks forward" to dealing with President Obama in the future and will rely on his "counsel" (Published Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016)

    "Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of creative lines in it," Pence said at one point.