Pence Probably Won VP Debate; Almost Certainly Won’t Matter

It's possible that Mike Pence won and Donald Trump still lost. It won't matter.

pence-kaine-debate

I followed Doug Matconis’ advice and skipped the vice presidential debate, not so much because it was decidedly unlikely to impact the outcome of next month’s election but because it certainly wouldn’t impact my own choice. Both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine had always struck me as perfectly decent and competent fellows. The former lost substantial credibility in my eyes when he sold his soul to be Donald Trump’s running mate. The latter has been a virtual non-factor thus far in the race. Regardless, the election is about the top of the ticket and, while I find both nominees unpalatable, Trump is simply unqualified to be president. I couldn’t vote for him even if he had chosen someone with the best qualities of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Dwight Eisenhower as his running mate.

Virtually all the early reporting has Pence winning the debate on style points while perhaps simultaneously hurting Trump by distancing himself from or denying various lunatic statements made by the Republican nominee. The best headline I’ve seen is a YahooNews report which termed it “a Tale of Two Trumps” because the two constantly interrupted one another.

Regardless, approximately zero votes on November 8 will be changed by what happened last night. As Doug’s post reminds us, even vice presidential debates lost in embarrassing fashion had no impact. Lloyd Bentsen’s “You’re no John Kennedy” line is style quoted nearly thirty years later; Dan Quayle’s ticket won in a landslide. Moreover, this cycle makes it even more unlikely for the second bananas to matter. There hasn’t been a presidential nominee in modern American history better known to the public than Hillary Clinton, who’s been in the national spotlight for a quarter century. Trump has been a national figure even longer and has simply dominated the national media since throwing his hat into the ring sixteen months ago. While there are presumably people still agonizing over which candidate they like least, it’s inconceivable that any person who will vote in this election doesn’t already have a pretty strong opinion about the two nominees. And neither Pence nor Kaine are sufficiently strong personalities to tip the scales.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jen says:

    Moreover, this cycle makes it even more unlikely for the second bananas to matter.

    The ironic thing is that given the fact that both candidates are either the oldest (Trump) or near oldest (Clinton, only slightly younger than Reagan) we’ve ever had, the VPs *should* matter a whole lot. Yet they don’t, simply because of the extraordinarily high profile of both nominees.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    I watched some and read the pundits this morning. It seems there were no big moments but Pence came across, at least to me, as more calm and steady. On the other hand the most important takeaway for me was Pence’s willingness to flat our lie about Trump’s policies and statements. When Kaine would mention something that Trump had said, Pence frequently denied it or shook his head.

    In another thread I mentioned something that left me wondering and I’ll repeat it here:
    Looking at the pundit roll this morning it seems that many Republicans were comparing Trumps performance unfavorably to Pence’s. I wonder if Trump will lash out at Pence.

  3. Guarneri says:

    I acknowledge that I might be in the (tiny?) minority who believe the VP matters. But I do. It is the first major decision test of the presidential candidate (remember the simply fabulous Sarah Palin?) who will go on t pick cabinet members etc. And their marching orders reflect the top banana. Not to mention they could become the top banana.

    Kaine came off as churlish and robotically Clintonized.

    Yech.

  4. Guarneri,

    You can make an argument that picking a running mate is a judgment test for the person at the top of the ticket. However, it’s also true that there are no real examples from recent history that show a “bad” pick hurts a Presidential ticket, or that a “good” pick helps a Presidential nominee do better than they would have otherwise. Few people would argue, for example, that Sarah Palin was an example of a bad pick by John McCain and yet the reality is that he most likely would have lost the 2008 election even if he had picked the best possible nominee. Similarly, Michael Dukakis picked a highly qualified running mate in Lloyd Bensten and yet he lost in a landslide.

  5. C. Clavin says:

    On thing is clear from last night.
    Pence and the rest of the Republican establishment are in complete denial about Trump.
    There were a dozen times last night that Pence flat out denied what Trump has clearly said…and said multiple times.
    (If I were Clinton I would be out with an ad today showing exactly that with their own words, with the tag line – Does Mike Pence even know who his running mate is?)
    So are they delusional? Or are they trying to con the electorate?
    And what is their plan for if and when this f’ing ignoramus actually gets into office and cannot be controlled? No one has been able to control him to date. Why would anyone think that a sociopathic narcissist who wins the most powerful office in the world could all of the sudden be controlled?

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Patton Oswalt response to Trump tweet about Pence…
    https://twitter.com/pattonoswalt/status/783506258565275648

  7. Catchling says:

    During and after the GOP convention, some speculated that Trump would simply drop out, for various reasons stemming from his personality. I’ve wondered what the legal ramifications would be if he did. (At this point I consider the odds way less than 1%, but it’s still interesting to speculate.)

    Since his name is still on the ballot everywhere, would a Trump “resignation” really amount to a pinky-promise to not take office?

    If so, that might be his best path to victory — fool uneasy Republicans into thinking they’re actually voting for a President Pence, then say “Changed my mind!” and take the oath of office on Inauguration Day.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Pence and the rest of the Republican establishment are in complete denial about Trump.

    Kaine, last night:

    “Six times tonight I have said to Gov. Pence, I cannot defend how you would defend your running mate’s position…and in all six cases, he has refused to defend. And yet, he is asking everybody to vote for somebody he cannot defend.”

    But don’t worry, Jenos and JKB and bill and Guarneri will be around to defend the indefensible.

  9. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    there are no real examples from recent history that show a “bad” pick hurts a Presidential ticket

    There is research suggesting that Palin may have cost McCain as much as 2% in the popular vote. (See here for links to a couple of studies.) Since Obama won the popular vote by 7% that year, obviously that 2% wouldn’t have been enough to change the outcome. But it certainly suggests that Palin hurt the McCain ticket. “Hurt” doesn’t mean “singlehandedly caused a ticket to lose that otherwise would have won.” It means “reduced a ticket’s chances of winning,” and the evidence suggests Palin did that.

  10. SKI says:

    I don’t think Pence won. He may have performed better in a head to head but that isn’t the actual point of a VP debate. As noted above, what matters to voters is the top of the ticket. So the question becomes which VP candidate helped their Presidential Candidate more. And I think the answer has to be Kane. He was ruder and less polished but he delivered more body blows (neither had a knockout punch) and opened up a whole line of videos/ads of Pence denying that Trump said things he said.

    It was the VP debate so the impact will be marginal but the things that will be remembered from it are that Kane was rude, that Trump won’t release his taxes and that Pence couldn’t/wouldn’t defend Trump’s statements and tried to pretend they didn’t exist.

  11. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’d say it’s a good bet that if Trump doesn’t actually lash out at Pence that he’ll try to diminish Pence in some way.

    I find it amusing that Trump wasn’t allowed to be alone with his phone last night during the debate, that four keepers were required to keep the Tweeting under control.

  12. dmhlt says:

    “Take Homes” from the VP Debate:
    [1] Trump Is Indefensible
    [2] Kaine is running for election in 2016 – Pence for 2020
    … AND from a Tweet:

    “Second debate in a row where Trump had a Mike that wasn’t working for him.”

    https://twitter.com/SportsKitten/status/783527099118354432

  13. JKB says:

    Probably not significantly, but with Hillary’s health an issue, some may give more consideration to the VP and Kaine did not inspire confidence. Pence on the other hand, came across as a very good backup and we all know how Joe Biden was Obama’s qualification for the presidency in 2008.

    In any case, a good deal of the election is over and the debates are really just for the pundits this late in the game. With early voting, for the debates to really matter, they’d need to be held in early September at the latest.

  14. Mikey says:

    @JKB:

    with Hillary’s health an issue

    Bless your heart.

  15. Mikey says:

    I didn’t see the whole thing, but from what I saw it seemed Pence’s main duty was to deny Trump said a bunch of stuff it takes about two seconds to verify Trump actually said.

  16. Franklin says:

    @Kylopod: Anecdotally, I do know a Republican woman who specifically refused to vote for McCain purely because of Palin.

  17. Franklin says:

    Regarding the debate, I was very disappointed in Kaine. Regardless of Clinton’s health, she ain’t a spring chicken. And for that matter it seems that some Trump supporters would seriously consider assassination. So the VP is important, and Kaine was unimpressive.

    And despite reading everywhere that Pence was dumb, he almost came across as reasonably intelligent. Of course that doesn’t erase the stubborn facts and his history, but that’s how I felt he performed last night. There’s no doubt he won.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK:

    I find it amusing that Trump wasn’t allowed to be alone with his phone last night during the debate, that four keepers were required to keep the Tweeting under control.

    It’s revealing that this information was shared by Trump’s team before the debate, with the actual minders listed. Quite an odd thing to feel the need to leak…

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    but with Hillary’s health an issue

    You will buy any piece of propaganda put in front of you…have you ever had an independent, critical, thought?

  20. Gavrilo says:

    So, Mike Pence spent the whole debate denying, deflecting, or refusing to defend things Donald Trump has said…and he still won?

    Tim Kaine must have been a complete train wreck. Now, I’m kinda sorry I missed that.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @C. Clavin: Perhaps he doesn’t buy it, but is instead being cunningly sly in spreading this rumor which will catch on like wild fire and doom Clinton’s chances. He’s a clever devil, after all…

  22. Tony W says:

    Pence was poised and calm and full of $hit.

    I was disappointed that there was no reference to Periods for Pence or his LGTBQ stance or a myriad of other positions that are indefensible – but ultimately this is about Trump v. Clinton so perhaps that doesn’t matter.

    Pence 2020 would be more of the same from the R’s. They will never get it.

  23. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Yeah, I know. Very odd. Were they trying to signal in some way that they acknowledge Trump needs to be controlled?

    And…what would they do if he were elected? Have relay teams sitting up with him all night to make sure he doesn’t go on some insane three a.m. Twitter rant? “Okay, Hicks and Bannon, you guys have the midnight to 2 a.m. shift. Miller and Scavino, you got the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. shift. Ivanka? Think you can handle 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. by yourself?”

  24. Mikey says:

    @Gavrilo: Kaine wasn’t a train wreck, he just wasn’t all that great. He got in some good points but overall Pence displayed more calm and confidence.

  25. Andrew says:

    I said it a month or so ago.

    Trump/Pence is a lame version of Zapp Brannigan and Kif Kroker. Kif is usually calm and collected. Does not exactly make up for Zapp, however.

  26. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kylopod: I’m not sure, but I think there were polls in ’68 which showed that Agnew’s bloopers hurt Nixon, while Muskie’s calm demeanor helped Humphrey. Not enough to change the final result, but the VP choice may have made the election closer than it would’ve been otherwise.

  27. Stonetools says:

    What I got from the pundit analysis is that if you lie smoothly and dispassionately, you win over someone who tells the truth crudely and passionately. That’s nuts of course.
    Substance matters and Kaine clearly won on substance. My guess is that by Sunday, the videos of Pence denying things Trump said on video and of Prnce in effect calling for an abortion ban will replace the pundit narrative that Pence won on style.
    As for the effect , Pence did nothing to reverse the movement of the polls toward Clinton- because he did little to defend Trump.
    This VP debate should matter, btw, because it’s likely that either Kaine or Pence will be President over the next eight years. Actuarial tables matter, pundit innumeracy notwithstanding. Doug and James’ analysis missed this.

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @Gavrilo:

    So, Mike Pence spent the whole debate denying, deflecting, or refusing to defend things Donald Trump has said…and he still won?

    Yup…Pence won by throwing Trump under the bus. Pence refused to defend what you are here defending regularly. What does that tell you about yourself?

  29. Hal_10000 says:

    I think Pence won mainly because Kaine did a poor job. He was interrupting constantly, which annoyed me. He kept drifting from the topic to attack Trump. And he had some groaner one-liners. Pence, by contrast, was calm and assuring. Of course, Pence go there by basically lying about everything Trump has said or done over the last year. So in the end, we all lost.

    Also a reminder of where this election would be if Trump were not the Republican nominee.

  30. Andrew says:

    @Hal_10000:

    He was interrupting constantly, which annoyed me. He kept drifting from the topic to attack. And he had some groaner one-liners

    Eerily like Trump in the first debate.
    Sounds to me like Kaine is there to lure over people who like that type of behavior, and see it in Trump. Yet, do not want a complete blowhard to get their vote.

  31. Tillman says:

    @Franklin:

    And despite reading everywhere that Pence was dumb, he almost came across as reasonably intelligent. Of course that doesn’t erase the stubborn facts and his history, but that’s how I felt he performed last night.

    It comes from his speech style. Pence has a pseudo-Keillor effect of lulling you into a semisomnolent state by talking at a measured pace, usually without a raised voice, and saying some of the most batshit things imaginable. Because he delivers them thus, you can dismiss the whole thing as a dream or hallucination unless you happen to live in Indiana and had to contend with miscarriage coffins.

    @Gavrilo: It was actually really boring. It reminded me of the joke from Futurama about how one candidate at the debate was a clone of the other. They were saying marginally different things so it came down to affect and image more than their words, and in that sense Kaine came off like a grown-up Beaver Cleaver while Pence was a skull desperately trying to escape its body.

    Maybe if I had drugs it would’ve been worth more than a half-hour.

  32. Tillman says:

    What I’m trying to say is I missed the high-octane failure that can only come from a Clinton-Trump debate. That’s the kind of failure that matters.

  33. al-Alameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Kaine came off as churlish and robotically Clintonized.

    Interesting. I thought Pence came across as a programmed Trump Apologist Bot. Not that that’s not in the job description for Vice President.

  34. MarkedMan says:
  35. MarkedMan says:

    @Tillman:

    miscarriage coffins.

    That wasn’t real, was it?

  36. CSK says:

    Well, those of us who assumed Trump would be insane with rage over Pence having outperformed him were absolutely right:

    Actual quote from Trump Tower: “I have never seen him so pissed off.”

    John King from CNN was the first to report that Trump was very unhappy at being upstaged. It’s spreading all over Twitter.

    Can’t say I’m surprised.

  37. Tillman says:

    @MarkedMan: Sorry, it might’ve been “being legally required to have a tasteful and dignified funeral for an aborted baby.” My recall isn’t great, but I think I read somewhere you could interpret the law such that any fetus that dies would require a funeral.

  38. Liberal Capitalist says:

    On the other thread, we said it would be great to have Kaine say something, have Pence deny it, and then have Trump’s recorded words. End the commercial with Pence shaking his head.

    Looks like the narrative is already being built:

    6 things Trump definitely said that Pence claimed he didn’t

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/trump-said-mike-pence-claimed-did-not-229171

  39. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: Pence signed a bill into law that requires miscarriages be interred or cremated, so yeah, it’s real.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @Stonetools:

    pundit innumeracy notwithstanding.

    Yeah. Isn’t it amazing how much of that there seems to be.

  41. grumpy realist says:

    @Tillman: Forget where it was, but I remember reading a lot of jokes about Pence coming off like a mortuary attendant.

    And while everyone is goggling at this crap going on, anyone notice that none of the last three Nobel prizes were awarded to Americans? A group in France, a Japanese, and three Brits.

    I’m sure China is grinning ear to ear watching the collapse of our basic R&D….

  42. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. I wonder if Trump will have the guts to push for something like this?

    (His nativist followers would love it, while the Establishment Republicans would turn purple. I hope he picks up the idea.)

  43. ltmcdies says:

    @CSK:

    Yes and does that just bode well for a Trump presidency….don’t leave the boss alone with anything that could cause us harm…iphone, launch codes,

  44. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist: Well, to be fair, while the researchers were not Americans, several did their Nobel-awarded work at American universities. Kosterlitz (physics) is at Brown, Stoddart (chemistry) is at Northwestern, Haldane (physics) is at Princeton.

  45. CSK says:

    @ltmcdies:

    Trump Tower must be in an uproar today. Imagine the scene: The Donald being forcibly restrained by the six burliest guys on his Secret Service detail, while Ivanka and Melania are racing up and down the corridors frantically searching for a doctor to come and administer a sedative.

    We keep saying this whole surreal pageant can’t get any weirder, but…is it within the realm of possibility that Trump fires Pence?

    What am I saying? With Trump, anything is within the realm of possibility.

  46. Dumb Brit says:

    Pence won the tactical battle, whilst Kaine laiddown the strategy to win the war; remind everyone what Trump thinks and says.

  47. DrDaveT says:

    @Tillman:

    Because [Pence speaks] thus, you can dismiss the whole thing as a dream or hallucination unless you happen to live in Indiana and had to contend with miscarriage coffins.

    Also, people like James will describe him as ‘decent’. I figure that has to be based on his calm speaking style; it can’t be based on how he actually treats people.

  48. Neil Hudelson says:

    @MarkedMan: @Tillman:

    I was kind of in-the-mix during all this (the ACLU of Indiana has filed 4 abortion lawsuits against Pence in four years, this particular case was the third). The law in question mandated that any remains from an abortion or miscarriage that occured at a medical facility had to be disposed of at a funeral home, with the appropriate disposal items (coffin, cremains urn, etc.). If a woman had a miscarriage at home, she would not have had to purchase full funeral service (she would have only had to have worried about being charged with “feticide” and faced up to 20 years in jail), but Planned Parenthood and hospitals would have had to purchase funeral services for all their miscarriage/abortion cases.* Because that would unfairly bust medical providers’ budgets, women who obtained an abortion had the option of taking the remains home with them. That last line is not a twisted joke, but reality.

    Fortunately we had a preliminary injunction granted before the law could take effect. That injunction was made permanent by the 7th circuit on Monday.

    *Just to underline how asinine this law was, most remains from an abortion are liquid and could be poured into a mayonnaise jar.

  49. Pch101 says:

    It has gotten to the point that a “moderate Republican” is an extremist who doesn’t shout.

  50. Loviatar says:

    James Joyner

    Both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine had always struck me as perfectly decent and competent fellows.

    Bland on the outside. Terrifying on the inside.

    In March, Pence signed a bill into law requiring burial or cremation for aborted fetuses.
    – Last month, Pence said he’d like to “send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history.”
    – Pence signed a 2015 bill permitting Indiana business owners to cite religious beliefs as a reason to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers.
    As Indiana’s governor, Pence slashed Planned Parenthood funding, arguably contributing to one county’s HIV outbreak.
    – During his 12 years as a congressman, Pence voted against nearly every piece of environmental legislation.
    – Pence voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
    – Pence voted for opening the Atlantic up to offshore oil drilling.
    – As a congressman, Pence gave a floor speech advocating the teaching of creationism in public schools.
    Pence wrote an op-ed arguing that “smoking doesn’t kill.”
    – Pence has advocated the use of public funds for conversion therapy, a discredited and potentially harmful form of anti-gay therapy.
    – Gov. Pence funneled $3.5 million in Indiana’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, intended for needy families with children, to crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel women against having abortions.
    Gov. Pence refused to comply with Obama administration rules aimed at reducing prison rape.
    – As congressman, Pence voted in favor of a bill that would have allowed for the detention of undocumented immigrants seeking hospital treatment.
    – Pence co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would have eliminated automatic citizenship for children born on US soil to undocumented parents.
    – Pence was one of 31 governors to oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state, declaring that state agencies wouldn’t cover the cost of some social services for Syrian refugees. His behavior earned him a strong rebuke from a panel of three federal judges, including one whom Donald Trump put on his Supreme Court nominee short list.

    .

  51. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Loviatar:

    Well yeah, but besides all that…

  52. Tillman says:

    @grumpy realist: A good one I saw was he looked like a ghoul that stole someone’s skin to wear and he was still adjusting.

    @DrDaveT: I mean, watch a debate from before the turn of the millennium and Pence sounds like any jerk who took the stage. If politics is more emotion than reason, presentation prevails over logic. It’s a tribal mechanism and it’s in no way limited to Republicans, just very much to their detriment this time around.

  53. michael reynolds says:

    I think at this point, to butcher Dylan, the line it is drawn, the curse it is cast, but in this case I don’t think there’s much a ‘changin going to happen. All that’s left to happen is for some percentage of Johnson supporters to sober up, some ‘undecided’ voters to admit that they’ve long-since decided, and then it’s down to turn-out. Who shows up and in what numbers.

  54. grumpy realist says:

    @Loviatar: I’ve always felt that anyone who wants to detain illegal immigrants if they show up at a hospital should have the mathematics of contagion explained to him. And then forced to read up on the Black Death.

  55. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    (If I were Clinton I would be out with an ad today showing exactly that with their own words, with the tag line – Does Mike Pence even know who his running mate is?)

    Here is the ad I predicted.
    http://www.salon.com/2016/10/05/watch-new-clinton-ad-demolishes-every-mike-pence-lie-from-vp-debate/

  56. bookdragon says:

    @Tillman: Personally, I think the best comment on Pence is that he always comes off sounding like the politician who wants to eliminate the X-MEN

  57. CSK says:

    So…what’s the over-under on Trump firing Pence within the next 48 hours?

  58. john430 says:

    @C. Clavin:… have you ever had an independent, critical, thought?

    Tee-hee. The Clavinpot calling the kettle black.

  59. gVOR08 says:

    @john430: Come on. You’re supposed to have some basis for a comment. Would either you or @JKB: recognize an independent critical thought if you tripped over it in the hallway? Hillary’s health as an issue fer gawd sake?

  60. al-Alameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    All that’s left to happen is for some percentage of Johnson supporters to sober up, some ‘undecided’ voters to admit that they’ve long-since decided, and then it’s down to turn-out. Who shows up and in what numbers.

    That’s it, period, end of story.
    If solid and thought-to-be Democratic Party constituencies – such as Black, Hispanic/Latino, young people – show up and vote, Hillary wins. If they do not show-up, Hillary could very well lose.

  61. Mikey says:

    @al-Alameda: And Hillary has far and away the superior GOTV effort.

    Not counting any chickens, but I’d say it swings the needle in her favor.

  62. michael reynolds says:

    @al-Alameda:

    I think the time has come for her to pivot to a positive message. People know why they should not vote for Trump; they know less why they should vote for Hillary. One thing Pence did is provide a window into just how we’d be getting beat up if the GOP had not decided to nominate a baboon.

    People want some vision of the future, and I don’t think Hillary has done much of a job of defining that. She can probably win without it, but the day after she’s elected, Trump will be in the rearview mirror and she’ll have 320 million citizens thinking, “OK, now what?” If she intends to accomplish something she should lay it out there, and I don’t just mean, “Look at my position papers.”

    What are we doing? Where are we going? What does the US look like in 4 years? How will things be better.

  63. C. Clavin says:

    @john430:
    So you agree with JKB and the mindless propaganda?
    Not the least bit surprising.

  64. Jen says:

    @michael reynolds:

    All that’s left to happen is for some percentage of Johnson supporters to sober up,

    Well, when your VP announces to the Boston Globe that he’s decided stopping Trump is job #1, I think this might happen fairly soon.

  65. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    And the great, hilarious irony is that a frenzied social climber like Trump would just loooove to be best buddies with an authentic blueblood like Weld.

  66. anjin-san says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I am thinking affordable college, corporate accountability (I was not happy when I saw where my Wells Fargo stock is) and infrastructure are good places to start.

  67. anjin-san says:

    @JKB:

    Hillary’s health an issue

    When they spent 90 minutes side by side under hot the lights, it ended with Hillary looking fresh and ready to continue, and Trump looking worn out and confused. Is Trump OK? Maybe we should be worried…

  68. An Interested Party says:

    Pence Probably Won VP Debate; Almost Certainly Matter Will Lose The Election

    It really is a shame for the Trump Campaign that while Pence was “winning” the debate he gave so much material to the Clinton Campaign…of course, that’s what happens when you’re just winging it rather than having an actual strategy

  69. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    You don’t motivate a wave of voters off affordable college or corporate accountability. A lot of people, left and right, are hungering for change, or at least improvement. So far Hillary is offering tweaks to the Obama era. I think she can win doing this, but she might win bigger and have a mandate if she dared a bit more.

  70. Andrew says:

    @anjin-san:

    What had happened was, Trump had left some of his McNuggets in the green room. And he was thinking about what shape they would be in by the time the debate ended. And who he would have to blame when they were soggy.

    Hilary had obviously gotten a blood transfusion before the debate from a young, white, christian male. Who is also a police officer, retired army vet, and a pro-life advocate. But the media is so in the tank for her, they would not dare speak the truth. For fear they would be the next victim for the serial killer Clinton.

  71. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think she can win doing this, but she might win bigger and have a mandate if she dared a bit more.

    She’s not the daring type. That got beat out of her by the Republicans in the early 1990s.

    Even though daring might sell better, be more inspiring, I don’t think we need daring right now. Measured, sober, deliberate leadership is what’s necessary and she’ll provide that.

  72. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    So far Hillary is offering tweaks to the Obama era.

    I’d be happy with four more years of Obama…especially given the alternative.
    Clinton needs to take pro-active control of the narrative of this race. So far it’s been all reaction. She has the momentum. Anyone who hasn’t been swayed by the “Trump is an a-hole of ginormous proportions” argument, by now, isn’t going to be. You’re right…move on. Go positive and give us some vision.

  73. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: Clinton and her circle’s instinct is to turtle through political barbs. She spent a primary in ’08 decrying the vague optimism of her opponent, and repeated that performance this year. Further, they spent more time this year extending a hand to disaffected Republicans (and cutting the bottom out of her own party’s political messaging) than “crafting a vision.” What you’re asking for is a half-hearted rallying gambit, and it will be seen that way at this late stage.

    No, she’s made her bed. All that’s left is a few more performances, an email release, whatever chaos might rear its head in the world, and hope. Changing strategy now is a bad idea.

  74. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Guarneri: I watched the debate between Trump and Clinton. He interrupted her 50 times and was a complete jerk for 90 minutes.So, why can’t Kaine be aggressive? This is why I left the Republican party. They have two standards, one for themselves, and one for everybody else.

  75. Guarneri says:

    Is it true Kaine was so bad the FBI offered him an immunity deal?

  76. Catchling says:

    Positive visions are inherently difficult because of polarization. Not just in politics; it’s much easier to get people to agree which movies/books are awful than which ones are great; everyone has a different favorite food, but we all retch at something rotten.

    Hillary has mentioned her experience, but delicately because it’s also considered a negative (by people of all politicial stripes) who prefer an “outsider”. She’s described policies and approaches her administration would follow. But it’s hard to say “Vote for me, I want to train officers to be less prejudiced” when that’s naturally going to split the electorate. “The other guy is a narcissistic con artist” might not.

    And frankly, I think Trump’s badness exceeds the goodness of any given president you can name. No matter how wonderful Clinton is, there’s no way for her qualities to be the most imporrant reason to vote for her — and I think she’s pretty damn great.

  77. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Here is the ad I predicted.
    http://www.salon.com/2016/10/05/watch-new-clinton-ad-demolishes-every-mike-pence-lie-from-vp-debate/

    OH MY GOD !!!

    That is exactly frame-by-frame as I envisioned it ! even with Pence shaking his head “no no no” at the end of it.

    That video should be played EVERYWHERE This week.

    … awesome.

  78. An Interested Party says:

    Clinton and her circle’s instinct is to turtle through political barbs. She spent a primary in ’08 decrying the vague optimism of her opponent, and repeated that performance this year. Further, they spent more time this year extending a hand to disaffected Republicans (and cutting the bottom out of her own party’s political messaging) than “crafting a vision.” What you’re asking for is a half-hearted rallying gambit, and it will be seen that way at this late stage.

    Did anyone else see the Frontline special on her and Trump? It goes a long way in explaining why she is so cautious…and why he is what he is…

  79. Ben Wolf says:

    Regardless, the election is about the top of the ticket and, while I find both nominees unpalatable, Trump is simply unqualified to be president.

    And yet you supported and defended and continue to defend George W. Bush, a man no more qualified in his administrative abilities. After the hundreds of billions in no-bid/no supervision/vice-president’s-buddies contracts, the pallets of cash gone missing, the mass-firing of prosecutors, the crippling of FEMA, a broken military and 1,000,000+ deaths in pursuit of threats that did not exist, the wholesale writing of legislation by whoever ponied up the most cash, the burning of the American Century on the pyre of Iraq, the auctioning of agencies’ services in exchange for golf weekends, an economic expansion built on an unsustainable accumulation of private debt, the siphoning of income and wealth from society’s producers to the wealthy classes, the utter squandering of America’s reputation and good-will; it is rather difficult to fathom you now care about competence in governance.

    More likely Trump is a threat to the elites with whom you mistakenly identify.

  80. al-Alameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think the time has come for her to pivot to a positive message. People know why they should not vote for Trump; they know less why they should vote for Hillary.

    I could not agree more.

    Hillary should recalibrate her campaign approach to 50% hammering Trump and 50% positive programs that will benefit middle class Americans. Right now she’s at about 90% hammer Trump and 10% here’s what I’ll do, now is the time to put more positive energy into this.

  81. michael reynolds says:

    @Tillman: @al-Alameda:

    The people who would see it as transparently-manipulative are people who’ve already decided. We’re down to the folks who even now have barely started to pay attention.

    Take a look at Nate Silver’s big graph of the probabilities. There’s a great big bulge of support for Hillary after the convention, and again now, after the debate. When Hillary can break through the Trump haze and reach voters – convention, debate – she goes up.

    And then she starts to gradually slip. I think that slip is due in part to the fact that Hillary leaves you with very little to hold onto. People like her. . . and then they slowly stop liking her. It’s not quite as obvious in the RCP averages, but even there you see it: we like visible Hillary, then we like her less and less, or at least not more and more.

    That’s what worries me, and that’s why I think she needs to promote a vision that is not just buzzwords. I don’t like it when her line goes south. We could still lose this thing.

    Beyond the election she will no longer have Trump as reference point. She’ll need to be POTUS on her own, which means dealing with Ryan and possibly McConnell, and a snake-bit, paranoid GOP, desperate to find a path back to the WH. There again, if she had a positive agenda, a plan, a vision, she might be better able to lead.

    I think we’ll probably win, but let’s not act like Republicans and stick our heads in the sand. Against Trump we should be up 20 points. We’re not. The Democratic Party isn’t the intellectual meltdown the GOP is, but we’re just a few steps behind them. The GOP thinks it’s 1955, and we either think it’s 1968 or the 1930’s. One of these parties is eventually going to figure out that it’s the 21st century and find a way to formulate a message that is optimistic and forward-looking. I’d like it to be us.

  82. Tyrell says:

    I did not watch the vp debate as I was watching the ball game.
    I hope that real issues were discussed, not Miss Universe and other diversionary gossip and trivia. These are the issues that I would like to see discussed:
    The low growth economy and the debt situation, including personal debt and college debt.
    The terrorist threat.
    The destruction of Damascus and the Syria crisis: Secretary Kerry needs to do something !
    The coming health care crisis and cost increases (Blue Cross pulls out of the government plan ! , joining giants Aetna and Humana !)
    Rebuilding the interstructure, including the aging electrical grid, airports, and the highway system.
    Energy research: real research and development into alternative fuels, not a “tax the working people, blame the US ” philosophy. There are sources of energy out there: anti-matter, geothermal, the magnetic fields, and fusion energy.
    I would do away with this format of having the candidates talking to each other which leads to interruptions, mud slinging, gossip, and purient trash. It deteriorates into a Springer type show.

  83. CSK says:

    @al-Alameda:

    I’m speculating that Clinton will wait to make any kind of dramatic pivot (if that’s in the cards) till after this coming Sunday’s debate, because who knows what Trump will do then? He may go full-on buffoon/lunatic in an effort to out-draw Pence, in which case all she has to do is continue to represent herself as the sane candidate.

    We know Trump isn’t going to study or practice for this debate, or in fact even listen to any reasonable advice from whoever among his advisors is capable of giving it. And we also know that he’s in a rage because all the commentators drew an unfavorable comparison between his debate performance and Pence’s. And we further know that Trump stated last week that he was going to make this campaign about Bill Clinton’s sexual hijinks.

  84. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Guarneri: Kaine was good enough that Clinton managed to make a great ad off of that debate. Pence is a hypocrite. I live in Indiana and I think one of the reasons he took this job is that it was not at all assured that he would win reelection.

  85. @Jen:

    Weld is denying the Boston Globe story. And honestly, Clinton should be hoping the Boston Glob made it up, because anyone who thinks Weld abandoning the LP nomination to campaign for Clinton would encourage Johnson voters to vote for her completely does not understand libertarians.

  86. Loviatar says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    completely does not understand libertarians.

    Oh yes we do.

    Kung Fu Monkey

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  87. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree with your intent, that she should go more positive. But I don’t think policy proposals are how she should go. She should start hammering home these things, over and over:

    1) America is a great country and she is proud to be an American
    2) The world knows America’s word is its bond. No country is more trusted than us. She will keep it that way.
    3) Americans can solve any problem once we hitch up our pants and settle in to the hard work. Americans are not whiners, we are workers.
    4) Her vision for America is that there is a job at a livable wage for anyone willing to work. She will set her administration to that goal and fight every day to get there.

    She should not not not follow this up with a list of programs or policy proposals.

  88. Tony W says:

    @MarkedMan: I regret that I have but a single upvote to offer. This is spot-on.

  89. Pylon says:

    Pence may have won the moment on style though I know plenty who watched and disagreed, saying he offered nothing. But Kaine clearly won the aftermath. All anyone is talking about is how Pence lied about Trump. And Kaine was certainly setting Pence up to do just that given how fast that commercial came out. Mind you Pence had to either admit the stupid things Trump said, lie about them, or try to explain them, and I think the latter is beyond him.

  90. Bookdragon says:

    @al-Alameda: Aaaarrrgghhhh!!! This drives me nuts.

    She has been doing that. She did a great rally speech in FL extolling national service and laying out a vision for encouraging more people to work for the common good to make America even greater. Just yesterday only a little south of me, she held a town hall and talked providing college debt refinancing or forgiveness and programs that would limit repayment to % of income so that people could pursue work they found meaningful instead of just adequately compensated.
    Every other campaign commercial from the Olympics on was on how she’ll invest in infrastructure and clean energy to grow the economy and jobs, or on her life long passion for seeing that all children get the care and educational start they deserve.

    Did the media cover that? Noooo. Do people notice the positive messages from the campaign? Nooooo. Why? Because the Trumpster fire is such Big Shiny Object.

  91. DrDaveT says:

    @Bookdragon:

    Every other campaign commercial from the Olympics on was on how she’ll invest in infrastructure and clean energy to grow the economy and jobs

    Sorry, but you’re just illustrating the problem. The phrase “clean energy” is guaranteed to cause many winnable voters to go over to Trump. That’s not rational, but it’s true. Similarly, “invest in infrastructure” is heard as “grow government”.

    It has been clear for weeks, if not months, that this election is not going to be won via rational thought. That’s sad, and I weep for America, but first things first. Win the damn election, then propose sensible and realistic policy. To win the election, you have to appeal to emotion. Trump has the baser emotions covered, so you need to appeal to the higher sentiments. Give people a reason to feel good about voting for Hillary, not just a reason to feel bad about voting for the orangutan or a sensible argument in favor of eating their vegetables.

  92. Guarneri says:

    I guess that was a silly question I asked.

    Obama was busy deep sixing the investigation into the guy who could spill the beans on the Obama/Clinton gun running operation and Benghazi. Only so much corruption to pull off in a single day.

    Of course Hillary kept up with her transparent and honest ways.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-05/clinton-caught-using-child-actor-ask-planted-question-pennsylvania-townhall

  93. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    When have you ever seen Hillary be able to sell inspirational bullshit? Bill could sell that back in the day. Obama could sell it. But Hillary going all morning in America? If she were capable of that we wouldn’t be in a 5 point race.

  94. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s what worries me, and that’s why I think she needs to promote a vision that is not just buzzwords.

    I think we’ll probably win, but let’s not act like Republicans and stick our heads in the sand.

    Similar concerns were brought up over a year ago when Clinton was being sold as the sure bet. The entire case for her candidacy was we knew what we were getting, and that includes her campaign style and stoic/avoidant way of weathering political squalls. This was sold as an advantage.

    There’ve been people in these comments for months now promoting her positive vision. That it doesn’t strike you (or me) as such doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent.

    Against Trump we should be up 20 points. We’re not.

    She’s not inspiring. Months ago, I’d be castigated as sexist for saying it, or begrudgingly acknowledged with justifications offered. I might still be! Hell, not as if Sanders was that inspiring either. But even if she was, she wouldn’t be up 20 points against Trump. That’s a terrible misread of human nature.

    She and her circle have their way of doing things, their accustomed patterns of thought and behavior, and it’s been on display for a year now. Suggesting they upheave their routine to satisfy a short-term anxiety could only cause trouble. I’m not saying I have faith in them, I’m saying the die is cast.

    The germinal phase is the crux. As long as things are in their beginnings they can be controlled, but once they have grown to their full consequences they acquire a power so overwhelming that man stands impotent before them.

  95. Tillman says:
  96. Katharsis says:

    @Tillman:

    …she wouldn’t be up 20 points against Trump. That’s a terrible misread of human nature.

    Sam Wang keeps mentioning that when you remove the names and just look at the numbers (state polls not national) this is the least dramatic election in 60+ years. Ever since the 90’s public opinion has been pretty set and polarized.

    The best I think we can hope for would be an Obama win like in 2008, but that year he won Indiana and that’s not going to happen this year. Still it would be nice if Trump is denied breaking the 200 mark in electoral votes. Hoping for something like a Reagan blowout, or even anything approaching landslide territory is just ignoring the present electorate we live in.

    By the by, 270towin is a good site to look at for recent historical perspective and playing with how the map might look on Nov 8th.

  97. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Guarneri: On what charge related to whom? (And it wouldn’t be the FBI, it would be the AG.)

  98. C. Clavin says:

    @Guarneri:
    You’re really linking to zerohedge?
    Again?
    Fool.

  99. Mikey says:

    @Guarneri: It bears repeating: Zerohedge is Russian agitprop.

  100. Moosebreath says:

    @Mikey:

    “Zerohedge is Russian agitprop.”

    And that makes it different than Trump’s speeches because…?

  101. bookdragon says:

    @DrDaveT: I think trying to win the non-rational Trump voter may be impossible even for the most eloquent and gifted democrat. They hate Obama, and Michelle – no amount of inspirational messaging is going to get them to vote for anyone with a D near their name. And with many of them, nothing will excuse a candidate not being white and/or male.

    Now, on emotion. This just started showing here in PA:

    Measure

    Now, I’ll grant you that Hillary doesn’t have great delivery. Compared to Bill, she sounds a bit wooden, but this ad made me smile and it tugged at my heart.

    Maybe it only appeals to me because I’m a mother, but guess what? Suburban moms like me may very well be the demographic that tips the election.

  102. Mikey says:

    @Moosebreath: The guys at Zerohedge can string three coherent thoughts together.

  103. mannning says:

    @C. Clavin:

    But don’t worry, Jenos and JKB and bill and Guarneri will be around to defend the indefensible

    Fortunately, Pence did not attempt to defend the impossible. He also shook his head at the out of context and passage of time involved for many of Trump’s untoward remarks. I do not think Pence meant to deny that Trump said some off the wall things he was accused of saying, but it sure seemed that way Perhaps his thought process was well behind the rapid rattling of Kaine.