37 million people tuned in to watch Democratic VP nominee Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia face off against Republican VP pick Indiana Governor Mike Pence in the one and only 2016 vice presidential debate on Tuesday October 4 at Longwood University in Virginia. While 37 million viewers is nothing to sneeze at, it is significantly less than the 51.4 viewers who watched the 2012 VP debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican VP candidate and current speaker of the house, Paul Ryan. The 2008 Joe Biden-Sarah Palin VP debate holds the record for the most-watched VP debate ever with 69.9 million viewers. (Pence, Kaine Get Smallest Audience for VP Debate Since 2000)
Some people say that the vice presidential debate does not matter. Of course, those comments are usually passed by Democrats when the Republican is the obvious winner as was the case with Governor Pence. While the CNN/ORC poll only credits Pence with the narrow victory of 52% vs. Kaine at 48%, you only need to watch the debate or read the transcript to see that Pence was the runaway winner of the evening. Kaine clearly did the lion’s share of interrupting. And while the liberal media has thrown out numbers suggesting that Pence interrupted 58 times to Kaine’s 77 times, most of Pence’s interruptions were in reaction to Kaine cutting him off. In fact, Kaine even interrupted Pence while he was sharing a September 11 recollection.
In addition to all of his interrupting, Kaine just did not come off well. He spent most of the debate in attack dog mode. Those who know Kaine say that he actually is a nice man and that the aggressive persona which we saw during the debate was forced upon him by the Clinton campaign. In addition to coming across as overly in your face, Kaine kept reiterating practiced talking points. And he found a way to turn just about every topic into a battle cry for Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
The debate’s unruly, interruption-laden format is largely the fault of the debate’s moderator, CBS anchor Elaine Quijano who has been widely criticized for losing control of the conversation flow. Ms. Quijano has also been criticized for pulling a “Lester Holt” and expressing blatant bias for Kaine over Pence. Quijano posed eight tough questions to Pence versus one to Kaine. The bias was also evidenced in that Ms. Quijano interrupted Pence far more frequently than she interrupted Kaine. She also far more frequently used the word “right” in acknowledgement with Kaine than with Pence. In another act of favoritism to the Clinton-Kaine ticket, Quijano redirected a conversation with Pence about Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email server. It was very confusing to viewers as Pence was discussing Clinton’s server and Quijano was throwing out questions about Syrian refugees. It is a credit to Pence that he was able to deliver his message about Donald Trump’s platform so cogently despite all of the communications obstacles he was facing (Another Debate, Another Biased Moderator: Quijano Dumps on Trump, Pence)
Not surprisingly, both the liberal media and the “never Trump” wing of the conservative media figured a way to twist Pence’s VP debate victory into a dig against Trump. Amber Phillips of the Washington Post wrote that “Mike Pence spent most of the vice-presidential debate defending a Donald Trump that doesn’t exist.” National Review Executive Editor, Rich Lowry a prominent “never Trumper”, delivered an equally articulate zinger, “Pence evidently decided to pretend that he is on a ticket with an utterly conventional Republican… (and his) sidestepping of Trump is the big asterisk on his night”. Ouch! (Pence Wins, Trump Loses in Vice-Presidential Debate)
The next presidential debate is scheduled for Sunday October 9 at Washington University in St. Louis. Word on the street is that the co-moderators, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, who are both left leaning are “feuding”, over who gets to ask the tough questions to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. According to a “TV insider”, the two anchors are concerned with “shining” and not appearing biased. Consequently, “there is a lot of turf grabbing going on”. Another insider added, “There won’t be just two presidential egos in the room on the next debate night, there will be four.” (Rumor Has It That ABC and CNN Are Feuding Hard Ahead of Next Week’s Debate)
Instead of moderating the presidential debate, the networks and the anchors are now part of the spectacle. Perhaps we should be happy that Martha and Anderson are feuding over who gets to ask the tough questions to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
photo credit: Modified from: Gage Skidmore Mike Pence via photopin (license); and By United States Senate – http://www.kaine.senate.gov/about, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org /w/index.php?curid=24544383