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Presidential Horse Race 2016: VP debate – Kaine’s ceaseless interruptions proved Pence is much more able

Considering all the turmoil in the presidential race this past week, there seemed to be a lot less tension in the air as vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine took the stage on Tuesday night to take part in their one and only debate of the 2016 cycle.

Whereas prior to the first presidential debate a Super Bowl-sized audience was expected for Trump vs. Clinton Part I, a more modest number was forecasted to tune-in for their running mates. And while most thought there would Kaine Pence debatebe verbal fireworks for Trump and Clinton (and there was), the mood of the vice presidents was supposed to be more subdued.

Whoever thought that was dead wrong.

The event, which took place at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia (and was moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News) initially lacked the “fight night” atmosphere of the previous week’s forum but thanks to Kaine, quickly devolved into a mudslinging contest of equal proportions to last week’s Trump vs. Clinton contest.

For the most part the candidates were asked by Quijano to talk about the issues but Kaine just couldn’t seem to get away from quoting Trump’s past statements on Mexicans and Vladimir Putin (among others). And man, Kaine sure is fixated on Donald Trump’s tax returns.

As time goes on it appears the Democrat strategy is composed of talking about their pie-in-the-sky government giveaway programs for about 15% of the time and attacking Donald Trump for the other 85%.

At least Pence parried the attacks on Tuesday night by bringing up Clinton’s “basket full of deplorables” comment. That was a moment of beauty.

Kaine’s constant interruptions and repetitive quoting of Trump even stirred Pence to say at one point, “Senator, that was even beneath you and Hillary Clinton -- and that’s pretty low.”

Heck, even the Washington Post declared Pence the winner. RedState too.

Going along with Kaine’s interruptions was plenty of smirking and whining from the Virginia senator who attempted to paint Trump as the embodiment of Satan on earth. It didn’t work. Pence was in good humor the entire time and kept his cool. I hope Trump was paying close attention because Pence made the perfect case for the Republican ticket during his debate.

It’s a little funny in a way that there was so much attention given to Tuesday night’s VP forum. Historically speaking, it used to be that it wasn’t much fun to be vice president.

America’s first vice president, John Adams, once wrote to wife Abigail, “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”

FDR’s first vice president, John “Cactus Jack” Nance Garner described the office as “not worth a bucket of warm spit.”

More recent vice presidents have taken on a much larger presence and role in their respective administrations, advancing the job beyond the traditional duties of attending funerals and occasionally presiding over the Senate. These days, we see the vice president a lot more than just once a year seated behind the president while he delivers the State of the Union address.

Perhaps starting with Walter Mondale, the vice president’s job has grown into being the president’s right hand man, regular congressional liaison, policy advisor and chief defender of the presidential agenda.

Need a quote? Call the vice president.

Perhaps it’s ironic that the two men vying to be the next second-in-line are both considered rather mundane in comparison to the oversized personalities at the top of the tickets. Mild-mannered and Midwestern to the core, Mike Pence is known primarily for his principled championing of the conservative agenda.

He did so flawlessly again on Tuesday night.

Likewise, Kaine is viewed as more “moderate” than his running mate. Kaine isn’t moderate, however – he’s a dedicated liberal in the mold of most 21st century Democrats – but at least he doesn’t seem as condescendingly contemptuous of average Americans as Crooked Hillary.

Though Kaine couldn’t really come up with an answer in a discussion about his beliefs on partial birth abortion, Kaine, who is supposedly pro-life (I don’t believe it) sidestepped the issue by saying he and Crooked Hillary believe it’s up to a woman to decide her own healthcare decisions. But what about the life of the child?

Democrats look heartless on the issue but they’re slaves to the Planned Parenthood lobby, so where else can they go…?

Kaine also got the worst of it when he kept insisting that Trump was in favor of nuclear proliferation, a charge that is so sensational even the Democrats can’t make it fly. Trump never said he was in favor of certain American allies getting nuclear weapons; he’s said many times he wants the allies to take a greater role in their own defense, which might include defending themselves with nuclear deterrence.

There’s a big difference. The public is not for more nuclear weapons but they are in favor of allies paying their own way and helping in their own defense. Common sense solutions – no wonder they’re popular.

Hillary represents the status quo. Trump equals change. If there was one part of the debate where I thought Pence could have done better it was in emphasizing that electing Hillary will just guarantee more years of the same malaise we’re experiencing now.

I personally think Trump and Pence should resurrect Ronald Reagan’s famous line: “Are you better off today than you were (eight) years ago?”

I have no problem answering: No, I am not. I personally don’t like having to counsel my children over safety procedures when using public restrooms. We don’t go to Target anymore. We’re tired of all of this.

In the end, Tim Kaine told so many lies and used so many quotes out of context that it isn’t going to help Hillary with her already considerable problems with public trust and believability. If her team tried to turn poor docile Tim Kaine into an attack dog, where does it end?

Mike Pence won the debate. He demonstrated that he would make a great vice president and helped clarify where the Trump ticket stands on the issues. All in all, a very good night for the Republican ticket.

Donald Trump doesn’t have much of a ground game strategy. Will it matter?

One thing I always find odd about the pundit postgame analysis of any debate is its tunnel-vision-like focus on emphasizing the importance of a single phrase from the program – or even a single word – within the context of the race as a whole.

“By saying he favors x, y and z, I think it will really score points with voters in states a and b.”

It’s almost like the professional commentator class expects two years’ worth of work to turn on a dime, like everything that was said and done up until now is completely meaningless because one of the candidates supposedly uttered something race altering.

It’s not that there aren’t rare moments in debates that do stick, of course. Take for example earlier this year when Chris Christie challenged Marco Rubio on his “memorized 25-second speech” and Rubio took such a significant dip in the polls that he ended up finishing fifth in New Hampshire.

Yes, that was indeed noteworthy. So was Governor Rick Perry’s embarrassing memory lapse in a 2012 Republican primary debate that made it look like the Texas governor was either unprepared or scatter brained – or both. It sank Perry’s candidacy then and arguably stayed with him through this year’s campaign.

But beyond the he-said/she-said analysis of the debates, other factors are certainly going to matter a great deal more in the long run than these widely-viewed soundbite filled forums when it comes down to determining who will win next month.

One of those factors could be the ground game, the get-out-the-vote efforts of both candidates and both parties to motivate their voters to actually care enough to cast a ballot.

For months we’ve been hearing about Hillary’s superior organization and much larger, more visible efforts to attract voters. If you’re going on this element alone, Hillary wins hands down. But will it matter?

Eliana Johnson of National Review writes, “[T]he importance of ground game, which has become the Republican National Committee’s singular focus this year, remains the subject of heated debate among political operatives. Some swear by it; others dismiss it as essentially a bunch of hocus-pocus. As one top Republican operative puts it: ‘A ground game means very little. It doesn’t mean nothing, it just means a lot less than people portray it as.’…

“[W]hile Clinton has a machine on her side, Trump has a level of enthusiasm she cannot hope to match. With ‘candidates like Trump whose support is so intense, voters don’t need to have a knock on their door to go tell them to vote,’ says another Republican strategist. ‘They’re ready to break down the doors to the polling place.’”

This knock-down-the-door mentality certainly appears to be the case for the Trump supporters I know, many of whom did not back the New Yorker during the Republican primaries but can’t wait to vote for him against Hillary.

I basically breakdown Trump’s fans into two camps: the first is the “with him from the beginning” crowd that was drawn to a combination of his tell-it-like-it-is, non- politically correct call for immigration enforcement and his throw the bums out of Washington mindset. In other words, this is the power propelling the populist hordes forward to elect Trump.

The second and what I believe is now an equally sizable group is the traditional conservative or Republican or anti-Democrat faction. I would say they’re certainly anti-Hillary, but these folks were just as intent on trying to get Barack Obama out of office along with all Democrat leaders who are radically altering the culture of America.

To this group, having a “D” beside the candidate’s name is enough to vote against him or her because they understand the disaster that it represents.

Some in this category have come to Trump’s side reluctantly, but now that they’re onboard, it’s all-in for the nominee. I believe the remnants of the tea party are probably stronger in this bunch along with Evangelicals and some establishment blue-blood Republicans.

No matter their background, these people are just as enthused about heading to the polls as the first group and together they constitute about 40 percent of the electorate.

In other words, Trump needs to work on securing the remaining potential coalition members.

#NeverTrump is still out there somewhere though their leadership doesn’t seem to be making much noise these days. Or maybe it’s just me. They’re still squawking, no doubt, but I’m just not paying attention to them anymore.

Regardless of who Trump’s voters might end up being, the campaign is taking a decidedly unorthodox tack in trying to get them to cast their ballots.

Kyle Cheney and Katie Glueck of Politico report, “In Iowa, clipboard-toting, neon-clad Trump volunteers canvass the extended lines that often form hours ahead of his events. They offer priority seating to prospective voters who fill out absentee ballot requests. At a recent North Carolina rally, there was a reserved ‘mail-in voter seating section.’ Trump allies in both states emphasize that the rally-centric efforts are augmented with traditional approaches as well. But there’s no question that the GOP nominee’s campaign is counting on the rallies — which it insists are filled with first-time voters — to serve as the fulcrum of its early voting strategy…

“Supporters view the rally-based plan as a risky but plausible approach that proved successful in the GOP primaries. But (Stuart) Jolly warned this approach has limitations too — Trump and running mate Mike Pence can only be in two places at once.”

The Politico reporters note early voters tend to favor Democrats in Iowa (but ballot requests are down this year for the D’s) and the GOP hopes to make up the difference by a massive turnout on Election Day.

Other states report similar experiences with Hillary’s organization outclassing Trump’s.

In the end, it really boils down to which side will have more voters and how many of them take the time to go through the process. In most cases it doesn’t take all that much effort to go and vote but it does require a certain level of interest beyond “why bother,” or, “it doesn’t make any difference who I would vote for, they’re all corrupt.”

As I’ve argued many times before, the quality of the candidate counts, and I don’t believe many of the “marginal” voters -- meaning those who may or may not vote -- are going to go in Hillary’s direction.

Not only is she unappealing as a candidate, people are not going to pull the lever for four more years of the same policies, especially when Americans would have to stare at Hillary’s lying face on the evening news during that entire time.

Trump’s hands-off approach to ground game is indeed a risk; but as a gambling man, Trump wouldn’t hedge his bets on a losing strategy. We’ll just have to assume he knows what he’s doing.  

Did Mitt Romney just endorse no-name Evan McMullin?

Whatever your individual opinions of Mike Pence or Tim Kaine might be, I’m guessing most people would at least concede they’re capable of being president should either one need to step into this year’s winner’s shoes sometime in the next four years.

So there is some gravity involved when the vice presidential candidates debate, because we know either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will win on November 8. Pence or Kaine will also be taking an oath of office come January, minutes before the new president raises his or her right hand.

This set in stone eventuality isn’t stopping some pathetic and desperate dreamers from trying to foment a miracle by dredging up someone other than Trump or Clinton to try and stop them from their destinies. It appears that the sorry “dreamer” lot includes everyone’s favorite loser (and non-endorser), Mitt Romney, unfortunately.

Daniel Chaitin of the Washington Examiner reports, “Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin is getting a little help from 2012's Republican nominee.

“McMullin's campaign on Monday sent out a fundraising pitch using an email list purchased from Mitt Romney, a spokesman confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

“’We are very grateful to Mitt Romney,’ said McMullin spokesman Rick Wilson.”

When asked, Wilson said he would leave it to others’ speculation on whether Romney’s allowing McMullin to use his list constitutes an endorsement.

I think it’s more than a little ironic that a no-name candidate like McMullin is asking for money using the former Republican nominee’s reputation as a selling point.

For one thing, no one knows who McMullin really is other than he’s an independent and running for president.

It’s less than 35 days out from the national election and we don’t have a clue about anything McMullin believes in (yes, you can read his website if you want to). We’re told he’s a conservative and he worked for the CIA. Various news sources have indicated he’s from Utah and through his connection to Romney, I’m guessing that he’s Mormon.

Further, as of the morning after the major party vice presidential debate it’s not at all clear who would be McMullin’s running mate should lightning strike and somehow McMullin miraculously draws enough voters to win Electoral Votes in the election.

So… people are supposed to vote for McMullin not knowing who, should he actually win, his vice president would be. At the same time, we don’t know who he would favor for his cabinet, his foreign policy beliefs or his philosophies on government.

I don’t even think I’ve ever heard the sound of his voice…and I follow the news. A lot.

If you’re curious, here’s a link to his website. But McMullin’s are a collection of issue positions written by some guy no one’s ever heard of. He has no public track record to assess, barely any media coverage and there isn’t anyone of any note that will vouch for him.

A vote for McMullin is truly like voting for someone completely at random.

This sounds like the kind of thing only Mitt Romney would be part of. Sad, isn’t it?

Michelle Obama mocks Trump, tells us what we need in a candidate

Finally today, as if there aren’t enough people constantly weighing in on the presidential race already, now the president and first lady are regularly adding their two cents as well.

The other day Obama remarked there was a straight line between Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in trying to insult and condescend to conservatives and yesterday wife Michelle tapped her microphone during a speech (mocking Trump’s defective one during last week’s debate) and then uttered something truly extraordinary.

Harper Neidig of The Hill reports, “Michelle Obama mocked Donald Trump on Tuesday for complaining about his microphone at last week’s debate…

“The first lady also attacked the GOP nominee over his tax returns.

“’We need someone who’s honest and plays by the rules, because not paying taxes for years and years while the rest of us pay our fair share does not make you smarter than the rest of us,’ the first lady said.”

When I saw this, I wondered if I was reading it right. Did Michelle just say we need someone who’s honest and plays by the rules?

Democrats have always demonstrated an amazing capacity to ignore reality, but how can anyone seriously call for honesty and playing by the rules and mention Hillary Clinton in the same breath?

Even if it’s true that Trump’s reported tax loss allowed him to avoid paying income taxes for a period of time, there was nothing dishonest about it. And it certainly wasn’t a case of not playing by the rules. Tax laws are tax laws. If you don’t like them, write your congressman.

In contrast, Crooked Hillary lies about everything, including her health, and there are no rules where she is concerned. If you don’t believe it, just ask the FBI.

If Hillary is elected, all the rules go out the window.

Hopefully Mike Pence’s performance in Tuesday night’s debate will help some people see that Trump and Pence make for a better alternative. Maybe then we’ll honestly get some new rules that everyone will follow, including the political elite class.

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