Tim Kaine and Mike Pence wasted no time in going after each other during their first and only debate as vice presidential nominees Tuesday night.
After brief opening statements in which both men introduced themselves, Kaine, a Democratic U.S. senator from Virginia, was asked why 60 percent of Americans are not willing to trust the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
He told debate moderator Elaine Quijano that Clinton has shown a commitment since she was a young woman to “serving others,” and quickly moved on to attacking Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Trump “always puts himself first,” Kaine said, accusing Trump of building his business career “on the backs of the little guy.” He mentioned Trump’s accusation that many of the immigrants to the United States from Mexico are “rapists and murders,” and criticized Trump’s long campaign questioning whether President Obama was really born in the United States.
“I can’t imagine how Gov. Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, me-first style of Donald Trump,” Kaine said.
Pence sat to Kaine’s left, shaking his head in disagreement. The Indiana governor turned to Kaine and said, “Senator, you and Hillary Clinton would know a lot about an insult-driven campaign. It really is remarkable.”
Pence gave no examples, however, and moved on quickly. He was focused on painting a picture of the world as “spinning out of control.” When he mentioned Russia, Kaine jumped in to interrupt, the first of many times he would do so.
“You guys love Russia,” Kaine told Pence. “These guys have praised Vladimir Putin as a great leader.”
As Quijano struggled to regain control of the conversation, Pence said, in response to Kaine’s interjections, “I must have hit a nerve here.”
Pence again said that Clinton and Kaine’s campaign has been characterized by “an avalanche of insults,” but again did not offer examples.
Pence moved on to talk about how Trump had built his business “through hard times and good times,” and Kaine again jumped in. “And paid few taxes and lost a billion dollars a year,” Kaine said.
Pence moved in again to discuss the Clinton Foundation’s taking donations from foreign governments. Kaine threw out what sounded like a prefabricated line.
“You are Donald Trump’s apprentice,” he said.
As he continued to talk over Pence, and Quijano tried to keep control, Kaine noted that the rules of engagement allowed for back-and-forth debate. “Isn’t this a discussion?” Kaine asked. Quijano acknowledged that it was. But Pence then said he would “interrupt” Kaine to finish his answer.
Pence added that Clinton’s private email server was intended “to keep the pay-to-play prices out of the reach of the public.”