The presidential candidates liked what they saw Tuesday night when their running mates faced off at the. Donald Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence won big. We should all be proud.” Hillary Clinton wrote that she’s “lucky to have a partner like Tim Kaine who stood up for our shared vision tonight – instead of trying to deny it.”
The Clinton tweet was a not-so-subtle attempt to drive home a Clinton post-debate theme that Pence wouldn’t stoutly defend Trump, reports CBS News correspondent Major Garrett. The Trump campaign refuted that, saying Pence’s defense not only sufficient but also persuasive and measured – ultimately helpful in the polls.
In the give-and-take, facts were among the casualties.
Throughout Tuesday’s debate, Kaine tried to tie Pence to the often-unscripted comments of his running mate, including on the issue of nuclear proliferation.
“More nations should get nuclear weapons? Try to defend that,” Kaine said.
“Don’t put words into my mouth. Well, he never said that, Senator,” Pence said.
But Trump has suggested he’d be OK with countries like Japan and Saudi Arabia becoming nuclear powers, even saying it’s inevitable.
“It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time,” Trump said in March at a CNN town hall.
In defending Clinton’s record fighting the spread of nukes, Kaine overstated his running mate’s successes.
“She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot,” Kaine said.
“Eliminating the Iran nuclear program?” Pence said.
“Absolutely,” Kaine said.
The nuclear deal with Iran was actually negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry, and while it freezes the Iranian nuclear weapons program, it leaves much the country’s infrastructure in place.
On immigration, Pence denied that Trump called for a deportation force to round up undocumented U.S. residents.
“So you like the 16 million
deportations?” Kaine asked.
“Senator, that’s – that’s nonsense,” Pence said.
He also said, “Senator, we have a deportation force. It’s called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.”
During the Republican primary, however, Trump did suggest the need for more aggressive tactics.
“You are going to have a deportation force, and you are going to do it humanely,” Trump said on “Morning Joe” in November 11, 2015.
On entitlements, Kaine accused his opponents of wanting to privatize Social Security.
“Donald Trump wrote a book and he said Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and privatization would be good for all of us,” Kaine said.
That book came out in 2000, but during this election, Trump has vocally opposed such a plan.
“I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to
leave it the way it is,” Trump said in March at the GOP debate.
There was also a good deal of back-and-forth about who said what about Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kaine accused Pence and Trump of praising dictatorship over American leadership. Pence retorted that the lack of White House leadership is why Putin has appeared stronger on the world stage.