2016 US Election, Ray D'Cruz

Previewing the Kaine-Pence VEEP debate

Ray D’Cruz

Today’s VEEP debate, with Governor Tim Kaine (Democrat) and Governor Mike Pence (Republican), will offer fewer spills and thrills than the presidential debate. While the characters in this debate are less polarising, it still holds intrigue.

How will both men seek to utilise and defend their record as Governors – and to what extent will they attack each other’s legislative record?

How will they defend their historically unpopular running mates? In particular, will Governor Pence walk back some of Mr Trump’s wilder claims and attacks?

It’s clear that Mr Trump’s personal tax history will be prominent given his refusal to publish his tax records, media claims he’s not paid income tax for 18 years and Mr Trump’s suggestion in the first debate that not paying tax “makes me smart”.

It will also be interesting to see whether both candidates outline their vision for the role of Vice Presidential and its relationship to the President.

We presume that Governor Kaine will seek to emulate the role and influence of current vice president, Joe Biden. His selection as running mate was in part to continue the themes of Vice President Biden’s public life: a commitment the underdog.

There’s another aspect of Vice President Biden for Governor Kaine to copy: how the current VEEP turned his verbose, folksy speaking style into a sharp, strong series of messages that defeated Governor Palin in 2008 and Congressman Paul Ryan in 2012.

Much of the intrigue and challenger for Governor Pence is about how he can explain the Trump-Pence leadership team. Can he show that their difference is the strength? How will his executive experience in politics complement Mr Trump’s business experience.

While Governor Kaine has lots of material to work with if he chooses to attack Mr Trump he must balance the positive and negative in this debate.

For Governor Mike Pence, the challenge will be to defend his running mate, attack the Clintons and offer some credible insight into how a Trump White House could be anything other than chaotic.


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