Pence Couldn't Refute Any of Tim Kaine's Attacks on Trump
A VP nominee's main role is to help the party's nominee get elected. True, Mike Pence held steady during the sole 2016 vice-presidential debate, leading mainsteam commentators to declare him the winner.
“What Trump needs desperately is someone to assure the nervous middle that there will be a grownup in the Oval Office next to the tantrum-throwing toddler," said Andrew Sullivan, blogger for New York magazine. "It was very effective, I’d say, on that count, especially with Republican voters who were looking for reassurance.”
But Pence failed "bigly," as Donald Trump would say, with regards to defending his running mate. While a revved-up Kaine piled on criticism of Trump talk, reiterating the GOP nominee's infamous statements, Pence dodged and denied the facts, instead, making up his own platform.
"Donald Trump has, in this campaign, expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin. He's essentially endorsed a wish list of pro-Putin policies. He's suggested we should withdraw from NATO, which would put our Eastern European allies at risk—and then tonight we heard a completely different message from Mike Pence," Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign's national press secretary, told Fox News' Megyn Kelly shortly after the debate ended.
"He was talking about how Putin was a bully and he was small. I mean, at the next debate I hope that Donald Trump will be asked if he agrees with Mike Pence then," Fallon continued. "I think that showed that Mike Pence had his own agenda tonight, and to me it almost seemed like he was auditioning for 2020 more than he cared about electing Donald Trump in 2016."
But what about viewers with less of a stake in the performance?
“Pence is giving the country a very good preview of how the Republican Party is going to move beyond Trump," tweeted Alec MacGillis, politics reporter for ProPublica. "Just pretend he never happened.”