About last week’s vice presidential debate: It was clear to me that Mike Pence won.
Pence made me see things about the Republican agenda I like. Tim Kaine made me see things about the Democrats’ agenda that I don’t like.
That is based on style.
Mike Pence would be a good political handler if he wasn’t in the race. His talk show experience showed.
Tim Kaine, it seemed, listened to his handlers, who must have told him he was too easy-going, so, following their advice, he went awkwardly into attack-dog mode.
He jumped in to interrupt not with substance but with canned anti-Trump material fed him by the handlers. His interruptions seemed arbitrary, guided more by a need to seem aggressive than a real need to fend off excesses from the other side.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are their own attack dogs. They don’t need more snarling from their running mates.
Pence countered by keeping things low-key, issue-oriented and on-message. Sometimes, Pence had to fight Kaine’s artificial fire by interrupting Kaine’s interruptions.
When Kaine was not taking unnatural offensives, he, too was on-target, informed and effective.
Pence has been faulted for not defending the ticket-leader. In many ways, however, his job was to compensate for some of Trump’s glaring trips over his own shoelaces.
I’ve learned from masters that if you can’t defend your side point-by-point, you take the offensive and bridge to your message, which Pence did time and time again when challenged on Trump’s excesses. It was better than defending the indefensible.
Despite the style war, there was more real debate in the vice-presidents’ faceoff than in confrontations between the ticket leaders.
Kaine and Pence showed deep familiarity with the issues and clearly demonstrated more often than not where the parties differ on matters of substance like Syria, the nation’s indebtedness, and how to put more Americans to work in rewarding jobs.
There were times when they agreed. When that happened, it was easy to visualize both men reaching across the aisle. That was refreshing.
Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at: