17 Dad-Like, WTF Moments From the Vice Presidential Debate - Rolling Stone
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17 Dad-Like, WTF Moments From the Vice Presidential Debate

Tuesday evening’s debate was dad-on-dad, Midwesterner-on-Midwesterner, Catholic-on-Catholic

On Tuesday night, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine sat down and tried to hash this whole presidential election thing out. CBS News reporter Elaine Quijano was the designated moderator of the event, but the two VP picks mostly ignored and occasionally talked over her while interrupting each other regularly.

The fact that vice presidential debates almost never change an election in any appreciable way, as the Washington Post illustrated with a nice graph, doesn’t mean there weren’t worthy moments for those who tuned in.

This one, in particular, lived up to predictions by being spectacularly boring. It was dad-on-dad, Midwesterner-on-Midwesterner, Catholic-on-Catholic. Pence and Kaine are both white, 208 pounds and measure up within an inch of each other, height-wise. They both have three kids, including one Marine son a piece.

None of that matters, though, because this debate wasn’t really about them – it was a dual referendum on each other’s running mates. Pence attacked Hillary Clinton’s record and Kaine defended it; Kaine attacked Trump’s record and Pence … mostly just shook his head. At least we all have that in common! 

Here were some of the most WTF moments from Tuesday’s one and only VP debate at Longwood University – or, as Mike Pence called it, “Norwood University” – in Farmville, Virginia.

On Russia
Pence: “I mean, the situation we’re watching hour by hour in Syria today is the result of the failed foreign policy and the weak foreign policy that Hillary Clinton helped lead in this administration and create. The newly emboldened – the aggression of Russia, whether it was in Ukraine or now they’re heavy-handed approach…”

Kaine: “You guys love Russia. You both have said Vladimir Putin is a better leader than the president.”

On their respective running mates
Pence: “There’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton. And that’s because they’re paying attention. I mean, the reality is, when she was Secretary of State, senator, come on – she had a Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from foreign governments.”

Kaine: “You are Donald Trump’s apprentice.”

On catchphrases
Kaine: “Do you want a ‘you’re hired’ president in Hillary Clinton, or do you want a ‘you’re fired’ president in Donald Trump? I think that’s not such a hard choice.”

Pence: “Well, first, let me say, I appreciated the ‘you’re hired,’ ‘you’re fired’ thing, Senator. You use that a whole lot. And I think your running mate used a lot of pre-done lines.”

On privatizing Social Security
Kaine: “We will never, ever engage in a risky scheme to privatize Social Security. Donald Trump wrote a book and he said Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and privatization would be good for all of us. And when Congressman Pence was in Congress, he was the chief cheerleader for the privatization of Social Security.”

Pence: “There they go again …. All Donald Trump and I have said about Social Security is we’re going to meet our obligations to our seniors.”

On paying taxes being dumb
Kaine: “[Trump] stood on the stage last week and when Hillary said, ‘You haven’t been paying taxes,’ he said, ‘That makes me smart.’ So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to pay for veterans? It’s smart not to pay for teachers? And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess we’re stupid.”

On releasing tax returns
Kaine: “Governor Pence had to give Donald Trump his tax returns to show he was qualified to be vice president. Donald Trump must give the American public his tax returns to show that he’s qualified to be president. And he’s breaking his promise.”

On community policing
Pence: “At the risk of agreeing with you [Tim Kaine] – community policing is a great idea. It’s worked in the Hoosier State. And we fully support that.”

On whose is the more insult-driven campaign
Pence: “Ours is an insult-driven campaign? I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all of the things that you’ve said he said in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables.”

Kaine: “Hillary Clinton said something on the campaign trail, and the very next day, she said, ‘You know what, I shouldn’t have said that’ …. Look for Donald Trump apologizing to John McCain for saying he wasn’t a hero, for Donald Trump apologizing for calling women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. Did Donald Trump apologize for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologize for saying African-Americans are living in hell? Did he apologize for saying President Obama was not even a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain to see Donald Trump ever taking responsibility for anybody and apologizing.”

On border security, and air walls
Pence: “After we secure the border, not only build a wall, but beneath the ground and in the air, we do internal enforcement.”

On the tenor of our national dialogue
Kaine: “If you want to have a society where people are respected and respect laws, you can’t have somebody at the top who demeans every group that he talks about. And I just, again, I cannot believe that Gov. Pence will defend the insult-driven campaign that Donald Trump has run.”

Pence: [Silence]

On fighting ISIS, and whether Trump has a plan to do so
Kaine: “Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot. Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan. He said, ‘I have a secret plan,’ and then he said, ‘I know more than all the generals about ISIL.’ And then he said, ‘I’m going to call the generals to help me figure out a plan.’ And finally he said, ‘I’m going to fire all the generals.’ He doesn’t have a plan.”

On refugees
Kaine: “We have different views on refugee issues and on immigration. Hillary and I want to do enforcement based on: Are people dangerous? These guys say all Mexicans are bad.”

Pence: “That’s absolutely false.”

Kaine: “And with respect to refugees, we want to keep people out if they’re dangerous. Donald Trump said keep them out if they’re Muslim. Mike Pence…”

Pence: “Absolutely.”

Kaine: “…put a program in place to keep them out if they’re from Syria. And yesterday an appellate court with three Republican judges struck down the Pence plan.”

On whether Trump loves dictators
Kaine: “He’s got kind of a personal Mount Rushmore, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Muammar Gaddafi…”

Pence: “Oh, please. Come on.”

Kaine: “…and Saddam Hussein. And last and most dangerously, Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He’s said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them. And when he was confronted with this, and told, Wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war, here’s what Donald Trump said, and I quote: ‘Go ahead, folks, enjoy yourselves.'”

On “the cyber”
Pence: “We could put cybersecurity first if we just make sure the next secretary of state doesn’t have a private server.”

On the futility of trying to defend Donald Trump
Kaine: “Six times tonight, I have said to Gov. Pence, I can’t imagine how you can defend your running mate’s position on one issue after the next. And in all six cases, he’s refused to defend his running mate.”

Pence: “Well, let’s – no, no, don’t put words in my mouth …. I’m very, very happy to defend Donald Trump. If he wants to take these one at a time, I’ll take them one at a time.”

Kaine: “More nations should get nuclear weapons. Try to defend that.”

Pence: “Don’t put words in my mouth. Well, he never said that, senator.”

Kaine: “He absolutely said it. Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan.”

Pence: “Most of the stuff you’ve said, he’s never said.”

On punishing women for abortion
Kaine: “I think you should live your moral values but the last thing – the very last thing – that government should do is have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices, and that is the fundamental difference between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket that wants to punish women who make that choice.”

Pence: “No, it’s really not. Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.”

Kaine: “Then why did Donald Trump say that?”

Pence: “He never would.”

Kaine: “Then why did he say that?”

Pence: “He’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton.”

On “that Mexican thing”
Kaine: “When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals – and John McCain’s not a hero – he’s showing you who he is.”

Pence: “Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.”


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