Having never met in person before, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, of Virginia, and Republican candidate Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, faced off during Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
The debate, moderated by CBS’s Elaine Quijano, may have garnered a smaller audience than its presidential counterpart earlier this month, but with just over a month until the election, the stakes were still high.
“The candidates were both much more articulate, I think, than the top-of-the-ticket debate last week. It was significantly more cordial – though it did get a little testy here and there,” said Nick Frankowski, a second-year in economics and political science and a member of College Republicans.
Topics addressed included the trustworthiness of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the temperament and tax records of Republican candidate Donald Trump, national security and women’s rights – reproductive, and otherwise.
Pence defended Trump’s tax records, which were released by the New York Times, in-part, earlier this week. The 1995 documents show almost a billion dollars in financial losses, a number that could have allowed Trump to skip paying income tax altogether.
“Business-wise, (Trump) did what he was supposed to do – which is save as much money for as his business as he can.” Nick Frankowski, second-year in economics
“Those tax returns that came out publicly this week showed that (Trump) faced pretty tough times 20 years ago,” Pence said. “But he used the tax code just the way it was supposed to be used.”
Frankowski agreed with Pence on the issue.
“Business-wise, he did what he was supposed to do – which is save as much money for as his business as he can,” he said.
Kaine, running alongside Clinton, confronted Pence on most fronts, but especially on the issue of Trump’s tax returns, which he has not released.
“Gov. Pence had to give Donald Trump his tax returns to show he was qualified to be vice president,” Kaine said. “Donald Trump promised the American public his tax return to show he is qualified to be president. He is breaking his promise.”
Jake Vasilj, a third-year in history and political science and the president of OSU’s chapter of College Democrats, also jumped on the subject of Trump’s taxes.
“Donald Trump isn’t supporting our military, Donald Trump isn’t helping rebuild America (by not paying taxes),” Vasilj said. “He had to report nearly a billion dollars of losses that year. If he is running on his record as a businessman, that is abysmal.”
On Clinton’s trustworthiness, which has been called into question by some because of prolonged legal battles over access to her emails while she was secretary of state, Kaine relied on Clinton’s history as a political servant and advocate for children.
“Let me tell you why I trust Hillary Clinton,” Kaine said. “She has been focused on serving others with a special focus on empowering families and kids. As a civil rights lawyer in the South with the Children’s Defense Fund, first lady of Arkansas, and this country’s secretary of state, it has always been about putting others first.”
Despite the variations in the vice presidential candidates’ platforms, the men share a commonality: both are fathers of U.S. Marines.
The pair discussed their parties’ intentions for combatting modern terrorism, both keeping in mind their children’s involvement in international security.
“To beat terrorism, there is only one candidate who can do it, and it is Hillary Clinton.” — Tim Kaine, Democratic vice presidential candidate
“I want to give credit to (Obama), for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, but the truth is, (bin Laden) led Al Qaeda. The primary threat today is ISIS,” Pence said. “Trump and I are committed to suspending the Syrian refugee program and programs in immigration around the world that have been compromised by terrorism. Hillary Clinton wants to increase it.”
Kaine said Clinton’s plan to defeat terrorism includes taking out ISIS leaders on the battlefield, disrupting their financing networks, hindering their ability to recruit members via the internet and grouping together with allies to share intelligence.
“To beat terrorism, there is only one candidate who can do it, and it is Hillary Clinton. She was a senator from New York on 9/11, at the World Trade Center when they were searching for victims and survivors,” Kaine said.
On the issue of women’s rights, Frankowski said voters should look to Trump’s family to see his true views.
“It shines a good light on Trump when you see someone like Ivanka Trump who works full time, who is a mother, who is politically active, and active in other arenas,” Frankowski said. “Trump having raised her to be a strong woman … that shines a light on Trump and his interactions with women.”
Wednesday’s debate was the only vice presidential debate scheduled for the 2016 election. The next presidential debate is set for Sunday at 9 p.m.