And yet, it was still a good night for the Democratic ticket.
Both candidates had a job to do and they pretty much stuck to the plan. That is, Tim Kaine relentlessly attacked the real Donald Trump while Mike Pence relentlessly ignored the real Donald Trump. I thought Kaine was a little too aggressive in the opening moments, which set a confrontational tone that the debate never fully recovered from. However, after about a third of the way through he had found the right stride while still not letting up one bit. Kaine may not have furthered his nice guy reputation in the process, but he delivered multiple devastating hits on Trump that went totally unanswered. And when Pence did respond, it was often by digging a deeper hole with the fact-checkers.
A prime example:
There's a lot more where that came from, as we'll be hearing about into tomorrow and beyond..@Mike_pence: “That is absolutely inaccurate.” Well, let’s go to the tape… #VPDebate pic.twitter.com/3PGrh8AZt1— MoveOn.org (@MoveOn) October 5, 2016
I'll admit that I was watching the debate surrounded by Democrats, but the genuine feeling around me was that Kaine emerged on top due to several very strong moments. Therefore, this wasn't a surprise:
How can anyone "win" a debate if it costs you votes in the process? It doesn't work that way. Pence edged Kaine in the CNN poll because he was deemed "nicer", and it will probably help him become the GOP nominee in 2020. However, when push came to shove, Pence left his running mate out to dry...and it didn't go unnoticed:In @CNN poll. @mike_Pence deemed winner 48-42. But by 29-18, voters who watched were more likely to vote for @HillaryClinton. #VPdebate— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) October 5, 2016
The next Clinton/Trump showdown is just a few days away, at which time I suspect the VP debate will already be a half-forgotten footnote. But if I had to guess the one "moment" that will last until election day, it just might be this:Trump adviser on debate after Pence passed up opportunities to defend him: "Pence won overall, but lost with Trump"— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 5, 2016
Pence dismisses hateful Trump comments on Latinos as #ThatMexicanThingAgain, but we'll respond on election day. #iAmerica #SEIUforHillary pic.twitter.com/lYf6KsYJrW— SEIU (@SEIU) October 5, 2016
Latino Twitter not happy w/ Pence. Pissed as hell w/ "You whipped out that Mexican thing" comment. Metio la pata. (Stuck his foot in mouth).— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) October 5, 2016