Tonight is the first and only vice-presidential debate of the 2016 election campaign.
As I have alluded in my recap of the first presidential debate, the pressure is now on Trump’s vice-presidential nominee to turn the campaign around.
Four years earlier President Obama had a terrible performance in his first debate at Denver University that was later called the Debacle in Denver. It was up to Vice-President Joe Biden to not only save the campaign but possibly save the Obama presidency.
As I observed after the debate, Biden did his job to get a hold for the ticket. He was a little demonstrative in his performance, but that is what Uncle Joe is known for. He set it up for Obama to do what he needed to do in the last two debates.
What does tonight’s debate have in store?
It is up to Indiana Governor Mike Pence to try to save the floundering Trump candidacy. Since the first matchup between Clinton and Trump, the top of the Republican ticket has been blitzed with a series of bad news.
The morning after the debate Trump doubled down on statements that he insulted former Miss Universe Alicia Machado due to her gaining weight. He also said during post-debate spin that he did not say the things he did during the debate (uhh…. Should we look at the videotape again?).
Trump proved Clinton’s claim that he could be baited by tweet storming at 3AM about Ms. Machado by urging his Twitter followers to check out a sex tape that she was supposedly in.
Well… it turns out that Ms. Machado was never in that type of film. After much research it was revealed that there was someone in a sex tape…
There was also an AP story that came out that Trump demeaned female camera operators, producers, and contestants during his Apprentice reality game show.
And Trump mocked Clinton for her pneumonia diagnosis that caused her to take a couple days off from the campaign.
Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald published another story about Trump’s business dealings; this time a story about him purchasing steel and aluminum from China for his construction operations instead of the United States, specifically from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump has taken a tough stance on US-China trade relations but in practice Trump decided to stiff the American workers he claims to be their champion.
Yesterday during a forum with veterans in Virginia, Trump stated that soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries who took their own lives were not strong.
And early this morning, October Surprise was trending on Twitter with the hopes that WkiLeaks founder Julian Assange would release a series of documents illegally obtained from Hillary Clinton’s e-mail that would damage her standing in the polls. It turns out it was an event to promote the 10-year anniversary of the organization. It should be noted that if Assange does have documents, they cannot be independently verified and there is strong evidence that Russia is behind the hacking of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party in the efforts to cause chaos in the election and possibly swing the election towards Trump for a more favorable relation between Putin-led Russia and the United States.
But possibly the biggest bombshell for the Trump came on Saturday night when the New York Times published Trump’s 1995 tax returns that showed he claimed a nearly $916 million loss and from analyzing the returns, it is possible that Trump got out of paying taxes for 18 years.
Trump in the debate claimed that not paying taxes made him smart and in subsequent rallies repeated that line as well as stating because he cheated the tax code, he is the only one who can fix it.
Yeah, fix it to benefit himself and only him.
So… Governor Pence has his work cut out for him to try to right the Trump campaign.
And it is not just Trump Pence has to answer for.
Pence has remained relatively low key in comparison to previous vice-presidential candidates and also due to being overshadowed by the top of the ticket.
If this was a normal election year, Pence would receive a lot more attention for his record as Indiana governor and as a congressman. There is clearly a split between Trump and Pence over several policies. Trump has taken a very anti-trade stance while Pence has voted for trade deals while he was in the House. Trump claims that he was against the Iraq War (Howard Stern says that Trump supported the war in a 2002 interview) while Pence voted for the Iraq War.
But there are more things that need to be highlighted regarding Governor Mike Pence.
Pence is just as much as a social conservative that the party has claimed to distance themselves from.
I expect there to be a question by the moderator to address that both vice-presidential candidates are deeply religious individuals, but their politics are completely opposite.
While there are issues concerning Senator Tim Kaine’s positions on abortion that are not exactly appealing to a certain segment of the political left but in a September 2016 NPR interview, it is stated that Kaine does not allow his personal beliefs on this subject to impact his politics. Despite this, Kaine has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood since he was elected to the Senate in 2012. And, like same-sex marriage (which Kaine supports as well as being a co-sponsor for the Equality Act and has a 90% rating from the HRC), there has been an evolution on reproductive rights within the Democratic Party.
Meanwhile, Pence as Indiana governor signed a bill into law prohibiting a woman from obtaining an abortion due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus. The law was blocked by a federal judge due to a Texas anti-abortion law being overturned by the Supreme Court last June. Pence also led a crusade to close Planned Parenthood that caused the number of HIV cases to spike in one Indiana county.
Speaking of HIV, Pence criticized the Republican Party for allowing a 12-year old girl living with HIV to address the 1996 Republican convention. In his 2000 run for Congress, he proposed gutting HIV funding and redirected that money toward the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy.
Oh and his anti-LGBT rights stance is why Pence received national attention as Indiana governor in the first place. Pence signed a religious freedom bill that would allow a person to deny services to a person if they serve are in conflict with their religious beliefs. All it is backdoor to discrimination and it is targeted towards the LGBT community in response to the Obergefell decision announced nearly 16 months ago. The law created such an outcry that the state became a national pariah (that is before North Carolina signed their version) and the Indianapolis Star took out a front page editorial demanding that the state “Fix This Now.”
And here is a list of issues that Trump and Pence agree on. It’s not pretty.
If I was supporting the Republican ticket, I would look back to 2012 after Obama’s first debate and see how Biden preformed in the vice-presidential debate that changed the direction of the general election campaign.
Then I would ask myself this question: Does Pence strike me as a Biden?
I think I know the answer to that question.
But hey, no pressure.