Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton loom large over vice presidential debate


Even though Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were not on stage or even in the building here at Longwood University, they were consistently overshadowing their running mates throughout the duration of the 90-minute debate.

The Pence-Kaine matchup lacked the spectacularity of the first presidential debate, which drew a record 84 million viewers last week, according to Nielsen. But it took many cues from that first battle, including a multitude of personal attacks and a share of messy moments, with both candidates talking over one another and moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

The lion’s share of those jabs were pointed upward.

Kaine, Virginia’s junior U.S. senator, took a particularly aggressive posture early on in the evening, slamming Trump for his temperament amid a recent public feud with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. He said Trump’s actions, which included a 3 a.m. Twitter rant, were evidence of why he would make a poor commander in chief.

“Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot,” Kaine quipped before turning to Pence, who he said was trying to defend the indefensible.

The Indiana governor’s demeanor was calmer and more contemplative, and Pence was often forced to sit back as Kaine spoke over him.

A politician who made a name for himself in Indiana by disavowing negative campaigning, Pence shot back at Kaine’s comments that Trump has run a negative campaign by invoking a red meat rallying cry for Republicans.

“This ‘insult-driven campaign,’ ” Pence said, referring to Kaine’s wording about the Trump campaign, “that’s small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a basket of deplorables.”

More: Kaine and Pence debate, but spotlight on Clinton and Trump

Related coverage: 

Tim Kaine takes the Donald Trump approach in the Veep debate

Behind the scenes at Longwood University’s VP debate

Here’s what to expect from Tim Kaine during tonight’s VP debate

Here’s what to watch for in tonight’s vice presidential debate

Five weeks out, projection models give edge to Clinton in race for White House

AJC poll: Georgia voters are ‘meh’ on Mike Pence, Tim Kaine

In American politics, being VP is no sure path to better things

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...