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Rediff.com  » News » 'Thought of Trump as Prez scares us to death': Kaine, Pence clash in VP debate

'Thought of Trump as Prez scares us to death': Kaine, Pence clash in VP debate

Last updated on: October 05, 2016 16:02 IST

IMAGE: Democrat Tim Kaine, left, shakes hand with Republican Mike Pence at the start of their only vice presidential debate. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine aggressively challenged his rival Mike Pence who calmly dodged and sidestepped criticism of some of his running mate's policies and demeaning comments, with media declaring the Republican Governor as the winner of the first and only vice presidential debate here.

The moderator, Elaine Quijano of CBS News, had to intervene from the very start of the 90-minute debate last night, as the two vice presidential nominees interrupted each other at regular interval. In fact, at times Quijano had a tough time in controlling Kaine, 58, and Pence, 57.

An unflappable Pence won the night -- with 48 per cent of those who watched it saying he had the best night, compared to 42 per cent saying Kaine won, according to a CNN/ORC poll of debate viewers.

Pence, who was more prepared in his answers than Trump was in his first presidential debate, outlined a detailed agenda on tax policy, entitlements and immigration.

IMAGE: Kaine listens as Pence speaks. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters.

"You and Hillary Clinton would know a lot about an insult-driven campaign," Pence said, highlighting Clinton's relentless criticism of Trump.

"At a time when literally, in the wake of Hillary Clinton's tenure as the secretary of state, where she was the architect of the Obama administration's foreign policy, we see entire portions of the world, particularly the wider Middle East, literally spinning out of control.

"I mean, the situation we're watching hour by hour in Syria today is the result of the failed foreign policy and the weak foreign policy that Hillary Clinton helped lead in this administration and create," said the Indiana Governor.

"The newly emboldened - the aggression of Russia, whether it was in Ukraine or now they're heavy-handed approach...," said the calm and cool looking Pence as he was interrupted by Kaine, who appeared to be on the attack from the beginning.

"You guys love Russia. You both have said...," Kaine interrupted as Pence tried to complete his sentence "...their heavy-handed approach."

"You both have said -- you both have said Vladimir Putin is a better leader than the president," Kaine jumped again.

The debate was kicked off by Kaine as he responded to the first question. While Democratic presidential nominee Clinton has dedicated her life for public service and for the betterment of the people of the country, her Republican rival Donald Trump has always put himself first, he said.

IMAGE: Kaine interrupts as Pence speaks on 'emboldened Russian aggression'. Photograph: Andrew Gombert/Reuters

"Trump always puts himself first. He built a business career, in the words of one of his own campaign staffers, 'off the backs of the little guy'. As a candidate, he started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals," he said, adding Trump has pursued the discredited and outrageous lie that President Obama wasn't born in the US.

"I can't imagine how Governor Pence can defend the insult-driven selfish 'me first' style of Donald Trump," Kaine, the senator from Virginia, alleged. "The thought of Donald Trump as commander in chief scares us to death."  Kaine attacked Trump on his tax returns and the New York Times report according to which in 1995 he showed a massive business loss of nearly a USD 1 billion.

"His tax returns showed he went through a very difficult time, but he used the tax code just the way it's supposed to be used. And he did it brilliantly," Pence said.

"Trump has brought an extraordinary business acumen. He's employed tens of thousands of people in the US," he said.

Kaine said the terror threat facing the US has decreased in some ways because Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden is dead and the Iranian nuclear weapon programme has been stopped.

He, however, slammed Trump for having no plans to combat terrorism and "trash-talking" US military and its generals.

IMAGE: Pence grimaces during the debate. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

He said Trump only has "dangerous ideas", which include trash-talking the military and calling it a "disaster".

Kaine said Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who can beat terrorism because she has got a plan to do it.

"She was part of the national security team that wiped out bin Laden. We have a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to keep taking out their leaders on the ground. Just as Clinton was part of the team that got bin Laden, she will lead the team that will get ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," he said.

Kaine said that "most dangerously", Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons.

Pence responded by saying it looked like Kaine had worked on his speech on terrorism "for a long time" as it contained very "creative lines".

"America is less safe today than it was the day Barack Obama became president of the US. It is absolutely inarguable. We've weakened America's place in the world…mostly it's been a lack of leadership," he said, adding that America’s "primary" threat today is ISIS and the country is "back at war" in Iraq.

On immigration, Pence said Trump has laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country.

During the debate, he described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a bullying leader and said the only way to counter such an attitude is to strengthen the US military.

IMAGE: Kaine and Pence shake hands after the debate. Photograph: Reuters

"We've just got to have American strength on the world stage. When Donald Trump becomes president of the US, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they're dealing with a strong American president," Pence said.

"Strength. Plain and simple," he said when asked why would Russia respect US under a Trump Administration.

Pence's Democratic rival was quick to remind him about Trump's praise for Putin and said, "Clinton has the ability to stand up to Russia in a way that this ticket does not."

Pence said that the "weak and feckless foreign" policy of Clinton as secretary of state and US President Barack Obama has awakened an aggression in Russia that first appeared a few years ago with their move in Georgia, now their move into Crimea, now their move into the wider Middle East.

The country needs to be tough on Russia, asserted Kaine.

Results of debate released by Tweeter showed that Pence was talked about 60 per cent of the time, while 40 per cent went to Kaine. During the debate, Pence gained 22,000 new followers, while Kaine got 15,000 new followers. 

IMAGE: Kaine attacked Trump for his ‘dangerous’ ideas of supporting more nations getting nuclear weapons and having no plans to combat terrorism. Photograph: Reuters

“He loves dictators. He got a personal Mount Rushmore -- (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, (North Korean Leader) Kim Jong-Un, (Libyan dictator) Muammar Gaddafi and (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein,” he said, referring to the massive sculpture carved into Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota with faces of US presidents.

Pence remarked ‘Oh come on’ to these comments.

Kaine said Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who can beat terrorism because she has got a plan to do it.

"She was part of the national security team that wiped out bin Laden. We have a plan to defeat ISIS. We have to keep taking out their leaders on the ground. Just as Clinton was part of the team that got bin Laden, she will lead the team that will get ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi," Kaine said.

He said Clinton's plan to fight terrorism includes need to disrupt financing networks, disrupt terrorists’ ability to recruit on the internet and end their safe havens.

“We also have to work with allies to share and surge intelligent,” he said as opposed to Trump’s plan to tear down alliances like NATO.

Kaine said that ‘most dangerously’, Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons.

IMAGE: Kaine said Clinton's plan to fight terrorism includes need to disrupt financing networks, disrupt terrorists’ ability to recruit on the internet and end their safe havens. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

Pence responded by saying it looked like Kaine had worked on his speech on terrorism ‘for a long time’ as it contained very ‘creative lines’.

“America is less safe today than it was the day Barack Obama became president of the US. It is absolutely inarguable. We’ve weakened America’s place in the world…mostly it’s been a lack of leadership,” he said, adding that America’s ‘primary’ threat today is ISIS and the country is ‘back at war’ in Iraq.

Pence was asked that while Trump has proposed extreme vetting of immigrants from parts of the world that export terrorism, how does he propose to tackle terrorist attacks, such as the Orlando nightclub massacre and the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, perpetrated by homegrown terrorists who were ‘US citizens and legal residents’.

Pence did not appear to give a straight answer, saying ‘it really does begin with us reforming our immigration system and putting the interest, particularly the safety and security of the American people first’.

“Trump has called for extreme vetting for people coming into this country so we don’t bring people into the US who are hostile to our Bill of Rights freedoms, who are hostile to the American way of life. Also Donald Trump and I are committed to suspending the Syrian refugee program and programs and immigration from areas of the world that have been compromised by terrorism,” he said, adding if he is vice President and Trump is president, they are going to put the security of American people first.

IMAGE: ‘Oh come on’, remarked Pence when Kaine said Donald Trump loves dictators. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

On immigration, Pence said Trump has laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country.

“Clinton and Tim Kaine want to continue the policies of open borders, amnesty, catch and release, sanctuary cities, all the things that are driving wages down in this country. And often with criminal aliens in the country, it is bringing heartbreak. But Donald Trump has a plan that will deal systematically with illegal immigration beginning with border security, internal enforcement,” he said.

He added that his presidential leader has laid out a priority to remove criminal aliens, ‘remove people who have overstayed their visas’.

Kaine responded by saying that while he and Clinton believe in comprehensible immigration reform, Trump believes in deportation.

On the war and humanitarian crisis in Syria, Pence said America should immediately establish safe zones so that the families with children can move out of those areas.

“I just have to tell you that the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength,” he said.

“When Donald Trump becomes president of the US, the Russians and the other countries in the world will know who they were dealing with -- a strong American president,” he said.

Lalit K Jha and Yoshita Singh
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