Democratic candidate Tim Kaine fought hard to make Donald Trump the topic of the U.S. vice-presidential debate on Tuesday night, while his Republican opponent Mike Pence pushed back hard, and tried to debate Hillary Clinton’s track record instead.
Mr. Kaine’s attempts to run through all the one-liners he had prepared made him appear unnatural and obstructive – he disrupted Mr. Pence 64 times in 90 minutes – while Mr. Pence stayed composed and calm. Mr. Pence deftly sidestepped all questions about Mr. Trump’s controversial statements, often denying that his running mate ever said what he had actually said. Both candidates sparred over Russia and they accused each other’s presidential candidate of being ineffective in dealing with Vladimir Putin. Mr. Pence raised the issue of Ms. Clinton having used a private e-mail server as Secretary of State; Mr. Kaine repeatedly sought to counter the nagging public perception that she is not trustworthy.
At the end of it all, CNN opinion poll of 472 people chose Mr. Pence the winner, 48 to 42, and Democrat commentators were making the point that even Mr. Trump’s running mate cannot defend his statements about women, immigrants and Muslims.
Substantive exchanges happened between the candidates on two issues – one was Russia and the other was how faith and politics could interface. Mr. Pence argued that the current Russian aggression is the result of the failed foreign policy of Barack Obama and Ms. Clinton, who had tried a “reset with Russia” during her tenure as Secretary of State. Mr. Kaine countered by saying that Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump have both praised Mr. Putin publicly on several occasions.
Mr. Pence argued that the Russian President was a stronger leader than Mr. Obama, and that a Trump presidency would win back America’s strength and respect.
Mr. Pence and Mr. Kaine – both avowed Christians – disagreed on how their faith could guide their politics, particularly on the question of abortion. Both are opponents of abortion, but Mr. Kaine said his policies would allow women to make their choices; Mr. Pence, who as Governor of Indiana restricted women’s access to abortion, said his politics and faith were inseparable. “A society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable: the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn,” he said.
More than the V-P debate, former President Bill Clinton’s comment that Obamacare is the “craziest thing in the world” is likely to set the stage for the second presidential debate between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump on October 9. Mr. Clinton’s comments two days ago about the Affordable Health Care Act have put Ms. Clinton in an awkward position.
Ms. Clinton has not been mentioning Obama presidency’s flagship scheme, which is now in a severe crisis, in her speeches. In the initial days of her campaign, Ms. Clinton had sought to keep a distance from Mr. Obama by declaring that she was not running for “Mr. Obama’s third presidency”. But when the going got tough, she embraced Mr. Obama’s legacy and in fact made it the soul of her campaign.
The Obamas and Vice-President Joe Biden have been effective surrogates for Ms. Clinton’s campaign, and Mr. Clinton’s outburst against Obamacare was out of script.
Reacting to the criticism, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Wow, did you just hear Bill Clinton’s statement on how bad Obamacare is,” adding “Hillary not happy. As I have been saying, repeal and replace.”
Source: The Hindu