Mike Pence v Tim Kaine: Highlights of the debate

Tim Kaine (left) and Mike Pence shake hands after their vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville.
Tim Kaine (left) and Mike Pence shake hands after their vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Here are the highlights of the US vice-presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence, the running mate of billionaire businessman Donald Trump, and Democrat Tim Kaine, who partners Mrs Hillary Clinton in the Nov 8 election.

On abortion

Pence: What I can't understand is Hillary Clinton - how she can support a process like partial-birth abortion. I know you hold pro-life views personally. At the very idea that a child almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them, I cannot in conscience [understand] a party that supports that... For me, my faith informs my life. For me, it all begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of all human life.

Kaine: We support Roe v Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience and make their own decision about pregnancy. That is something we trust American women to do... I think you should live your moral values, but the last thing governments should do is to have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. That is the fundamental difference between the Clinton-Kaine ticket and the Trump-Pence ticket.

Who won: They each spoke to their own support base. Mr Kaine squared his pro-life religious views with upholding the Constitution and giving women the right to choose, hoping to earn the respect and vote of women voters. Mr Pence appealed to conservatives who are pro-life, but risked the woman vote but coming down hard on abortion.

On nuclear proliferation

Kaine: Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them. When he was confronted with this, and told, wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war, here's what Donald Trump said, and I quote: "Go ahead folks, enjoy yourselves." I would like Governor Pence tell me what is so enjoyable work comical about nuclear war.

Pence: "I can make it clear to the American people, after travelling millions of miles as our secretary of state after being the architect of the foreign policy of this administration, America is less safe today that it was the day that Barack Obama became President of the United States. It is absolutely inarguable. He weakened America's place in the world. It is a lack of leadership."

 

Who won: At first, Mr Pence tried to avoid addressing Mr Trump's cavalier attitudes towards nuclear proliferation by talking about how the United States did not become safer with Mr Obama in office.

 

Later, when Mr Kaine insisted that Mr Pence defend Mr Trump's stance that more nations should get nuclear weapons, Mr Pence simply brushed it off by saying: "He never said that." Mr Pence simply could not defend his running mate on this count.

On insults

Pence: "If Donald Trump had said all of the things that you've said he said in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn't have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton levelled when she said that half of our supporter were a basket of deplorables. She said they were irredeemable, they were not American."

Kaine: "Hillary Clinton said something on the campaign trail, and the very next day, she said, you know what, I shouldn't have said that... Did Donald Trump apologise for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologise for saying that President Obama was not a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain for Donald Trump apologising."

Who won: Mr Pence initiated the attack on the Clinton-Kaine ticket for an "insult-driven" campaign in order to bring up Mrs Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment, which Mr Trump had failed to mention in the last debate. But this was a hard one for Mr Pence to win, with Mr Trump having insulted so many groups throughout the course of his campaign.

On cyber security

Pence: We have got to bring together the best resources in this country to understand that cyber warfare is the new warfare of the asymmetrical enemies we face in this country... I will also tell you that it's important in this moment to remember that Hillary Clinton had a private server in her home that had classified information on it about drone strikes, e-mails from the president of the United States of America were on there, her private server was subject to being hacked by foreign..."

Kaine: "The investigation concluded that not one reasonable prosecutor would take any additional steps. You do not get to decide that the rights and wrongs of this. We have a justice system that does that. A Republican FBI director director did an investigation and concluded..."

Who won: Mr Pence won for a deft segway from cyber security to reminding Americans about Mrs Clinton's e-mail scandal. The e-mail scandal has also been used to highlight her lack of judgment and her lack of transparency as when she was secretary of state. Mr Pence successfully put Mr Kaine on the defensive and it showed.

On conflicts of interest

Pence: "While she was secretary of state, the foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and foreign donors... And then we found, thanks to the good work of the Associated Press, that more than half of her private meetings when she was secretary of state were given to major donors of the Clinton Foundation."

Kaine: "Hillary Clinton as secretary of state took no action to benefit the foundation. The State Department did an investigation and concluded that everything Hillary Clinton did as Secretary of State was in the interest of the United States. So, the foundation does good work and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state acted in the interest of the United States. Now, let's compare that with the Trump organisation. The conflict of interest could only be known if Donald Trump would release his tax returns and he has refused to do it. His son has said the organisation has a lot of business dealings in Russia. Remember, the Trump organisation is not a non-profit."

Who won: The two men were evenly matched. Mr Pence managed to raised doubts about whether Mrs Clinton acted in her family foundation's interest while she was secretary of state, while Mr Kaine raised questions about Mr Trump and whether he would conduct foreign relations with his company's interests in mind.