Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana met at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. on Tuesday for the only vice-presidential debate, however the main stars of the show were presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The respective running mates of Clinton and Trump spent the majority of the evening defending their party’s candidates.
While Pence criticized Clinton for using a private email server as Secretary of State, Kaine defended her, stating that “a Republican FBI director” had cleared Clinton.
“If your son or my son handled classified information the way Hillary Clinton did, they’d be court-martialed,” Pence said.
The debate involved a number of interruptions from both sides. Kaine interjected to Pence’s statement that Trump was “a businessman, not a politician,” by questioning why the republican nominee won’t release his tax returns. Pence responded, “We’re answering the question about the business thing.”
A New York Times report from the weekend revealed Trump declared a $916 million loss in 1995, which would allow him to avoid paying income tax for 18 years.
“He actually built a business,” Pence said. “Those tax returns showed he faced some pretty tough times 20 years ago. The tax code allows businessmen like Trump to comeback after taking risks.”
Kaine repeatedly attacked Trump for his comments on illegal immigrants, questioning President Obama’s birthplace and other insults.
Pence responded by addressing Clinton’s means of fundraising and using paid speeches.
“There’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton,” Pence said. “And that’s because they’re paying attention.”
According to CNN, Kaine was “relentlessly” on attack, however Pence remained calm and composed the whole time.
Pence came off “as the adult in the room as a frenetic Kaine delivered attack after attack, sometimes interrupting along the way,” CNN said.
Kaine criticized Trump’s remarks on his proposed foreign policies and praise of Vladimir Putin, and even accused Pence of declining to defend Trump during the debate.
“He is asking everybody to vote for somebody he cannot defend,” Kaine said.
Pence said he was happy to defend Trump and accused Kaine of both misrepresenting Trump and putting words in his mouth.
On the topic of gun violence, Kaine said it would be impossible to have a society where people and laws were respected with a president like Trump, who had called women “pigs and slobs” and who said African-Americans “were living in hell.”
“I cannot believe Gov. Pence will defend the insult driven campaign that Donald Trump is running,” Kaine said.
Pence argued if anyone was running an insult driven campaign, it was Clinton.
“Trump’s comments were small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a basket full of deplorables,” Pence said.
Kaine and Pence repeatedly spoke over each other and the debate moderator, Elaine Quijano, of CBS. Kaine challenged Pence during his answers, and rejected the notion he was cutting into Pence’s time.
At one point, Quijano said viewers at home would not hear anything if they continued to talk over each other.
A CNN poll following the debate found that 48 percent of viewers who watched the debate believed Pence won, while 42 percent thought Kaine was victorious.
The vice-presidential debate sets the stage for the second presidential debate on Sunday, which will be moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.