On Monday night, Vice Presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine took to the stage to defend their candidates for President, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively. Mike Pence handily won in style, but America lost on substance: Pence blatantly and repeatedly lied about the statements and positions of Donald Trump.
Vice Presidential debates are never about the Vice Presidential candidates themselves. These debates are an opportunity to tear down the opposition and tout the positive qualities of one’s candidate. However, on Monday night, as Kaine engaged in a line of attack using Trump’s own offensive words (many of which are recorded on video for all to see), Pence deflected and denied, avoiding questions and suggesting that it was actually the Clinton campaign that was “insult driven.”
While the Clinton campaign is of course not innocent of negative campaigning, the Trump campaign has taken insults to a new level, as Trump has publicly gone after a former Miss Universe, a Gold Star family, members of the press; Trump has lauded Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein as strong leaders; he has shown himself to be a misogynist, suggesting his opponent does not have “a presidential look” or the “stamina” to be president.
All of this, of course, did not matter to Pence. He put his best foot forward (as any debater should), and ignored all the times Trump put his foot in his mouth. Amazingly, Pence smoothed over and completely flipped on many of Trump’s policy suggestions: including Trump’s praise of Putin and his policies toward Russia’s occupation of Crimea and Assad’s reign of terror in Syria. Pence praised criminal justice reform, while Trump calls himself the law and order candidate. Pence denied that Trump has no problem with Japan and South Korea obtaining nuclear weapons. It is as if Pence is unaware or does not care that these statements are documented on video.
But what is more disturbing is that Pence is doing American audiences a disservice by being deceitful about his running mate. By Pence’s admission, Trump voters are getting a level headed, more traditional Republican candidate, instead of an erratic and shallow misogynist who does not understand American foreign policy. The truth lost in this debate, as Pence was able to deliver his lies in a calm and confident manner. While Pence is likely keeping his eyes on his political future in his debate performances, it is up to the media and audiences everywhere to remember exactly who Trump is and to never forget that Pence had unwavering and blind support for him.
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