America is addicted to Donald Trump. Are we ready to go through withdrawal on November 9?
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
I'll be live-blogging the debate here.
As usual, I'll be doing this without a pause/rewind button, so any quotes might not be verbatim, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate, and I might go back and correct some of them later.
You can find more live-blogging at National Review and TPM.
9:06 — The first question is about the Supreme Court. Hillary Clinton is asked whether the Constitution is a "flexible, living document." She says we need a Supreme Court to "stand up" for women's rights by not reversing Roe v. Wade, "stand up" for gay rights by not reversing marriage equality, and "say no to Citizens United," which has "undermined the election system in our country."
9:08 — Donald Trump criticizes Justice Ginsburg for criticizing him. As for the Constitution, he predictably emphasizes the Second Amendment. He'd nominate a Justice with a "pro-life," with a "conservative bent," who'll interpret "the Constitution the way it was meant to be" (note the past tense, implying it's not a "living document").
9:11 — The moderator, Chris Wallace, asks Clinton "what's wrong" with DC v. Heller, the Supreme Court decision that said individuals have a right to bear arms, which can be "reasonably limited." She admits that she disagreed with the specific outcome in Heller, but she is in favor of the Second Amendment.
9:13 — Trump says Clinton was "extremely angry" about the "well-crafted" decision in Heller, and "people who believe in the Second Amendment" were upset with her. Clinton notes that Trump is "strongly supported by the NRA," and Trump wonders if she was being "sarcastic" about that.
9:15 — Trump is asked if he wants to see Roe v. Wade overruled. He initially dodges the question by saying that if it's overruled, the abortion issue will be decided by the states. But then he admits that he'd nominate Justices who'd overrule Roe.
9:18 — Clinton is asked why she "voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion." She starts out legalistically, by talking about the holding of Roe, but then gets more emotional, by saying late-term abortions are "often the most heart-breaking, painful decisions."
9:19 — Trump gives a graphic description of a partial-birth abortion being performed on the day before the birth was scheduled. "Using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terrible unfortunate." She strikes a rare libertarian note by talking about how "the government" shouldn't make this decision — she's been to countries where the government forced women to get abortions (China), or to give birth.
9:22 — On immigration, Trump says: "We have some bad hombres here!" "We're getting the drugs; they're getting the cash."
9:24 — Clinton says Trump has said, as recently as a few weeks ago, that "every undocumented person would be subject to deportation," which "would rip our country apart." But she'd deport "any violent person."
9:25 — Clinton says that when Trump met with the President of Mexico, he "choked," then "got into a Twitter war." Trump calls it a "very good meeting" — "very nice man."
9:26 — Trump: "Hillary Clinton fought for the wall in 2006. She never gets anything done, so naturally the wall wasn't built." Clinton says she voted for "border security," but Trump interjects that this included "a wall." Clinton comes back with another hypocrisy charge: Trump "exploited undocumented workers."
9:29 — Chris Wallace quotes a leak from Wikileaks saying that she said in a speech, for which she was paid $225,000, that her "dream" is an "open market" with "open borders." Clinton initially says something about how energy is a global market, and then shifts to focusing on Russia's role in the leak — Trump "encouraged espionage against our people." Trump: "That was a great pivot off the fact that she wants open borders. . . . People are going to pour in from Syria."
9:32 — Trump, who seems to be on top of his game (apparently benefiting from his increased preparation before this debate), says: "I don't know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be great." But Clinton says Putin's "choice in this election is clear." Trump retorts: "Putin has outsmarted her and Obama at every step of the way!" When Clinton says Putin wants Trump installed as a puppet, Trump shouts at Clinton: "No puppet! You're the puppet!"
9:35 — Clinton excoriates Trump for his "cavalier" statements about nuclear weapons, quoting him as saying, "If we have them, why don't we use them," which is "terrifying." "When the president gives the order" to launch nukes, "it must be followed." Trump responds harshly, by saying Clinton has "been proven to be a liar" — "this is just another lie."
9:38 — Both candidates our asked why their economic plan "will create more jobs and growth," and their opponent's won't. Clinton reels off her same economic proposals she's listed in the previous debates. "We're going to go where the money is," i.e. tax the wealthy, because "most of the gains have been at the top. In contrast, Trump would give "the biggest tax breaks ever" to the wealthy and corporations, which would be "trickle-down economics on steroids."
9:40 — Trump says Clinton's plan would "double your taxes," and "President Obama's regime" has "doubled our national debt." As for his own plan, Trump emphasizes how we're losing out to other countries, like Japan, and how he'd somehow cause "off-shored" money to come back to the US.
9:44 — Chris Wallace asks Clinton if her plan is just "more of the Obama stimulus," which "led to the slowest GDP growth since 1949." Trump interjects: "Correct!" After an awkward pause, Wallace dryly responds: "Thank you, sir."
9:46 — Wallace tells Trump: "Even conservative economists who have looked at your plan have said the numbers don't add up" — his projections on economic growth and energy are "unrealistic." Trump doesn't defend the specifics of his plan, but makes broad statements about how China's growth has been much better than America's.
9:50 — Trump says Clinton "totally lied" in an earlier debate when she denied calling TPP "the gold standard." Clinton comes back: "The Trump hotel right here in Las Vegas is made of Chinese steel. So he goes around with crocodile tears . . ." Trump tries to turn the tables by blaming this on the lack of laws against it: "Make it impossible to do that! I wouldn't mind!" Trump concedes: "The one thing you have over me is more experience — but it's bad experience." Clinton seizes on the opportunity to recount her "30 years of experience" with what Trump was doing at the time, including calling Miss Universe "an eating machine."
9:52 — Trump somehow brings the topic around to foreign policy (which the moderator hasn't raised): "She gave us ISIS, which came out of a yuge vacuum."
9:53 — Wallace asks Trump why so many women have recently come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, and asks Clinton about the fact that even worse allegations have been made against her husband. Trump says: "Those stories have been largely debunked. . . . I have a feeling it was her campaign that did it."
9:55 — Clinton starts out not by answering Wallace's question about Bill Clinton, but by attacking Trump: "Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger."
9:57 — Trump: "Nobody has more respect for women than I do." The audience laughs. Trump changes the subject to Clinton's emails, without pointing out that she didn't answer the question about Bill Clinton.
9:59 — Clinton, her voice breaking, talks about Trump's "dark and . . . dangerous vision of our country, where he incites violence . . . where people are pulling and pushing at his rallies."
10:00 — Clinton is asked whether she really kept her pledge to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety" with respect to the Clinton Foundation, when donors seem to have gotten "special access" to the State Department. She said the Clinton Foundation allowed millions of people with HIV/AIDS to get treatment, but Wallace cuts off, pointing out that that hasn't answered the question about the "pay to play" allegations. When Clinton starts responding (though I don't think she ever answered the question about the Clinton Foundation), Trump aggressively interrupts, saying: "It's a criminal enterprise! . . . These are people who push gays off buildings and treat women horribly, yet you take their money."
10:03 — Clinton points out that the Trump Foundation spent some of its funds on "a 6-foot-tall portrait of Donald. Who does that?!" Trump insists that 100% of the Trump Foundation's funds go to charity, and that he gets nothing except "the right to put up an American flag." Clinton, smiling at the wide-open opportunity he's handed her, says: "Of course, there's no way to know whether any of that is true, because he hasn't released his tax returns!"
10:07 — Trump is asked if he'll "make a commitment that [he] will absolutely accept the results of this election." Trump refuses to make any pledge: "I'll look at it at the time. . . . Millions of people are registered to vote who shouldn't be able to vote." Wallace bears down on our tradition of "peaceful transfers of power," no matter how fought the election is, but Trump won't budge: "I'll keep you in suspense!"
10:10 — Clinton points out that Trump has a history of calling things "rigged" when they go against him — even when he lost the Emmys 3 years in a row. Trump: "Should have gotten it!"
10:12 — Wallace asks if either candidate would use ground troops in Mosul, Iraq, if ISIS leaves. Clinton apparently supports continuing Obama's policies, but is against ground troops. Trump makes his usual point that we shouldn't announce our military operations in advance, then brings up Obama's infamous "red line" comment about Syria and chemical weapons.
10:19 — Wallace asks Trump about the fact that in the last debate, he said "several things that were not true" about Aleppo, Syria. I missed the specific inaccuracies, but Trump doesn't admit to any of them. Instead, he focuses on Clinton: "If she had done nothing, we'd be in much better shape!"
10:24 — When Clinton talks about how she'd have "thorough vetting" of Syrian refugees, Trump squints and slowly nods, which seems to be a subconscious mistake.
10:26 — Next topic is the national debate. Wallace asks: "Why are you both of you ignoring this problem?" After Trump answers, Clinton points out that Trump "has been criticizing our government for decades. "I wonder when he thought America was great!"
10:31 — Trump is asked if he'd consider a "grand bargain on entitlements" — Social Security and Medicare. He dodges the question by talking about how his other policies would help the economy: tax cuts and repealing Obamacare. Clinton says repealing Obamacare would make the problem worse. Trump: "Your husband disagrees with you!"
10:34 — In the last segment of the last debate, Wallace says the candidates didn't agree to a "closing statement," but he goes ahead and asks each of them for a 1-minute statement of why we should vote for them. Clinton makes her usual points about "rising incomes" and appealing to all Americans. Trump says his usual points about veterans (who are "treated worse than illegal immigrants"), police, "the inner cities," etc.
10:37 — At the end, Clinton goes over to shake the moderator's hand, and then Trump shakes the moderator's hand too. The candidates don't shake each others' hands.
Winner: Chris Wallace
Sunday, October 9, 2016
I'll be live-blogging the debate here.
Of course, this will be the first debate since the public heard Donald Trump's 2005 comments about how he approaches women he finds attractive.
Earlier this evening, Trump had a public appearance, which he called a "debate prep," with women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sex offenses. Apparently, they'll all be in the debate audience.
As usual, I'll be doing this without a pause/rewind button, so any quotes might not be verbatim, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate, and I might go back and correct some of them later.
More live-blogging at TPM and National Review.
9:06 — An audience member asks both candidates if they think they're "modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today's youth." Hillary Clinton goes first. "Our country is great because we're good." She emphasizes her "positive and optimistic view" of what the country can do, and overcoming "divisiveness." This is a bland answer; she doesn't take the opportunity to attack Trump explicitly. Donald Trump also starts his answer to the same question in a positive way: "I agree with everything she said!" Then he segues into some of his standard points about Obamacare, the Iran deal, the deficit, and inner cities — none of which answers the question.
9:10 — Anderson Cooper reminds us of the question, and brings up the tape: "You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals — that is sexual assault." Trump denies saying that or ever doing "those things" (Cooper's words). Trump says he was "embarrassed" and "apologized" to his family and the American people, then pivots to talking about ISIS chopping off heads.
9:13 — Clinton responds: "What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about ... what he thinks about women, what he does to women. . . . I think it's clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly what he is. Because we have seen this throughout the campaign. We have seen him insult women. We have seen him rate women from 1 to 10." She then connects this to Trump targeting "Muslims, immigrants, people with disabilities, POWs." She says "America is already great" — an obvious rejoinder to Trump's slogan, "Make America great again" — and repeats her statement about America being "great" by being "good."
9:16 — Trump has a weak rebuttal: "It's just words, folks. It's just words." [Video of the first 11 minutes.]
9:18 — "If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words — his were actions. . . . There has never been anybody in the history of politics in this nation who's been as abusive to women." Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of mistreating those women, and laughing about how, as a defense attorney, she won a case defending a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Trump points out that that girl, and Paula Jones, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault, are in the audience (as is Bill himself). "I think it's disgraceful, and I think she should be ashamed of herself." Clinton is given 2 minutes to respond, but doesn't address those charges at all. It turns into a free-for-all, with both of attacking each other for a litany of things — Trump's mocking of a disabled reporter, Clinton's "acid-washed" emails, etc. Trump promises to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton.
9:24 — Clinton: "It's just awfully good that the someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of this country." Trump: "Because you'd be in jail!"
9:25 — Clinton is asked about her emails. She of course calls it "a mistake," but emphasizes that an investigation found no evidence that her email was hacked or caused classified information to "get into the wrong hands."
9:28 — Trump brings up Bill Clinton's conversation with the Attorney General by an airplane while Hillary was under investigation.
9:29 — Trump gets into a back-and-forth with Anderson Cooper about Trump interrupting Clinton. She says: "OK, Donald! I know you want diversions, because your campaign and the way it's exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you."
9:30 — An audience member asks about health care, and Clinton says it seems like "Donald wants to go first." Trump says: "No, you can go first Hillary, because I'm a gentleman." (He's dropped his approach in the first debate of calling her "Secretary Clinton.")
9:34 — Trump says Clinton "wants to go to single-payer, which means the government basically runs everything. . . . Obamacare was the first step."
9:34 — Anderson Cooper asks Hillary Clinton about Bill Clinton's comments about Obamacare being "crazy." "Was his mistake just telling the truth?" Clinton says no, he later "clarified" what he meant — although that's not particularly clear.
9:37 — Trump is asked how he'd make do on his promise to let people with pre-existing conditions get health insurance. Trump says he'd do it by getting rid of "lines" around states. He also calls Obamacare "a fraud," bringing up President Obama's false promise that if you like your plan, you can keep it.
9:38 — A member of the audience who's Muslim asks Trump about fear of Muslims. Trump: "Muslims have to report the problems when they see them. . . . If they don't do that, it's a very difficult situation for our country." Trump adds that Clinton can't solve the terrorism problem if she's not willing to say the words "radical Islamic terrorism." Clinton comes back that it's "short-sighted and even dangerous to be engaging in the kind of demagogic rhetoric Donald has about Muslims," which is "a gift to ISIS."
9:42 — Trump is asked if the "Muslim ban" he proposed last year is "still [his] position." He says it "has morphed into extreme vetting." On Syrian refugees, he says: "We know nothing about their values, and we know nothing about their love for our country." Martha Raddatz asks Clinton why she'd dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees brought into the US. Raddatz expresses skepticism of whether the vetting would work, but Clinton claims it would be "as tough as it needs to be."
9:46 — Trump is aggressively policing whether the moderators are letting him go over his time as much as Clinton, whether they're interrupting the candidates equally, etc. This is sure to excite his base but seems unlikely to win over independent voters.
9:48 — Clinton is asked about her leaked comment in a speech that "you need both a public and a private position on some issues." She says it was inspired by Abraham Lincoln: "He convinced some people with some arguments, and other people with other arguments."
9:53 — Trump says he pays "hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes," and he'd be "proud" to release his tax returns.
9:53 — An audience member asks how they'd change the tax code so that "the wealthy pay their fair share." Trump: "I'd give up carried interest provisions — for people like me." He points out that if Clinton thinks he hasn't paid enough in taxes, she should have changed that while she was in power. "She is raising your taxes, and I am lowering your taxes." Trump says our "GDP" is about "1%," although he clearly means we have about 1% growth; the GDP is a monetary amount, not a percentage.
9:56 — Clinton responds: "Everything you've heard from Donald Trump is just not true. . . . He lives in kind of an alternative universe." She says Trump would raise taxes on the middle class and give money to the rich, even more than George W. Bush's tax cuts did. "Donald always takes care of Donald and people like Donald." Trump retorts: "Hillary Clinton has friends who want all of these provisions! . . . With her, it's all talk, no action." In response to Trump saying she was an ineffective Senator, Clinton points out that she was a Senator when the president was a Republican — "under our Constitution, presidents have something called veto power."
10:06 — I've zoned out a little as they've discussed foreign policy. When Trump brings up Obama's infamous "red line" comment about Syria, which he failed to act on when Syria later used chemical weapons, Clinton says she was no longer Secretary of State by then. [Added later: Clinton was Secretary of State when Obama made the comment, but not when Syrian used the weapons a year later.] Trump comes back: "Sadly, Obama listened to you. I don't think he'd listen to you much anymore."
10:10 — Trump criticizes Obama for letting the enemy know where we're going to attack weeks in advance, allowing them time to leave. Martha Raddatz inappropriately steps out of her role as moderator and starting arguing with Trump over this: "There are reasons the military does that — psychological warfare."
10:14 — A rather abstract question from an audience member: "Do you believe you can be a devoted president to all the people in the United States?" Trump says he would, in contrast with Clinton, who calls his supporters "deplorable" and "irredeemable" — "she's got tremendous hatred!" Trump says Clinton was "a disaster" for upstate New York as Senator, but Clinton shoots him down while laughing: "Well, 67% of the people voted to elect me when I ran for my second term!" Clinton answers the audience member's question by quoting a young boy whose family immigrated here from Ethiopia, who wrote to her asking if he'd be deported under a President Trump.
10:22 — Anderson Cooper asks Trump if it's presidential to tweet about a "sex tape" at 3:00 a.m. Trump connects this to Benghazi and Clinton's 2008 ad about being ready to take a "3 a.m. phone call."
10:25 — In response to a question about Supreme Court nominations, Clinton says: "I want to appoint Supreme Court Justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience." She wants a Justice who'd overrule Citizens United, and uphold Roe v. Wade and marriage equality. Trump says he'd choose someone "in the mold of Justice Scalia," who'd "respect the 2nd Amendment."
10:29 — An audience member asks how they'd balance our "energy needs" with the environment. Trump emphasizes the former: "The EPA is killing these energy companies." Clinton starts her answer with an attack: "China is illegally dumping steel in the United States — and Donald Trump is buying it for his business."
10:34 — The last question: "Name one positive thing that you respect in one another." Clinton says: "I respect his children. His children are incredibly able." But she hastens to add: "I don't agree with anything else he says or does!" Trump: "She doesn't quit. She doesn't give up. I respect that. She's a fighter. I disagree with much of what she's fighting for . . . but she does fight hard."
At the beginning of the debate, the candidates noticeably refrained from shaking hands, which they had in the first debate. At the end, they briefly shake hands before walking over to their families.
About an hour into the debate, Josh Marshall, a Democrat, said:
This is a very different debate. The first 15 or 20 minutes were terrible for Trump. Since then he's done much better. It's hard to evaluate Trump because his manner is so caustic. But just in the most basic sense he's got in his key attacks against Hillary. So that's different. He does seem more prepared than he was on round one.Peter Beinart, the former editor of the New Republic, says:
hate to say it but I think [Trump] staunched his campaign's collapse tonight. Until the next big scoop . . .This assessment by Mark Antonio of National Review seems right:
Trump camp think they won the night -- they did. But they're still losing the war -- tonight didn't change that.My mom, Ann Althouse, points out that it wasn't much of a "town hall" debate.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Soundgarden released a great album, Badmotorfinger, 25 years ago today.
My favorite song on the album is "Outshined." When I made a list of "the 40 greatest grunge songs," I ranked "Outshined" #3. I wrote:
I can't think of a more brilliant musical expression of raw testosterone than this.
I love the way all the instruments and vocals move together on "Show me the power child, I'd like to say / That I'm down on my knees today" — like a machine with perfectly synchronized interlocking parts.
Focus on the interlude that starts just before 3:00. On the surface, there's not much going on here — no guitar solo or key change or anything. But a gentle little passage like this, in a song that's otherwise anything but gentle, is the kind of thing that elevates a song, and distinguished Soundgarden from 99% of grunge bands.
The album begins with the relentless "Rusty Cage":
The band will be releasing two special editions of the album next month:
The 2-CD package and the “Super Deluxe” version both include studio outtakes and live cuts, most of them previously unreleased. In all, the “Super Deluxe” contains 109 tracks (79 of them previously unreleased) in addition to two DVDs, capturing a 1992 concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, and the band’s 1992 Motorvision home video.Here's an extended version of "Slaves and Bulldozers," from a concert after they reunited a few years ago:
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
I'll be live-blogging the vice-presidential debate here, starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
As usual, I'll be writing down quotes on the fly, without a pause/rewind button, so they might not be word-for-word, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate, and I may or may not go back later and fix them.
You can find more live-blogging at National Review, TPM, the New American Perspective, and Althouse (my mom).
9:06 — The moderator, Elaine Quijano, asks how they're qualified to step into the job of president at a moment's notice. Hillary Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, says she picked him because he's been a missionary, mayor, governor, and Senator — he's "served at all levels of government." He adds that as the father of a son who's a Marine, he "trusts" Clinton as "commander-in-chief," but "the thought of Donald Trump scares [him] to death."
9:08 — Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, talks about his roots, repeatedly using the phrase "small town" and, of course, talking about his experience (like Kaine, Pence has been a governor and a member of Congress). While Pence speaks, Kaine is writing furiously.
9:11 — Kaine is asked why we should "trust" Clinton. He pivots to attacking Trump for "calling Mexicans rapists." "I can't imagine how Governor Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, me-first style of Donald Trump."
9:12 — Pence is asked about the perception that Trump is "erratic." Instead of answering the question, Pence starts out negative, blaming Clinton for the situation in Syria and other places. Kaine interrupts to remind us of Trump's praise for Vladimir Putin, and Pence shoots back: "I must have hit a nerve!" They argue about whether this is still Pence's "time" or "open discussion." I don't know that Pence ever answered the question.
9:15 — Kaine condescends to Pence, asking him if he "understand[s]" various facts, such as that Osama bin Laden was alive when Clinton became Secretary of State. (This reminds me of then–Vice President George H.W. Bush condescending to Geraldine Ferraro; she called him out for presuming to lecture her in the 1984 vice-presidential debate.)
9:18 — Pence quotes Bill Clinton's comments, earlier today, that Obamacare is a "crazy" system.
9:19 — Kaine frames the voters' choice as a "you're hired" candidate vs. a "you're fired" candidate. He brings up Trump's bizarre statement during the primaries that "wages are too high." "His tax plan basically helps him" — it's "really a Trump-first plan."
9:21 — Pence brushes off Kaine's "you're hired"/"you're fired" comment by saying Kaine and Clinton "use a lot of pre-done lines." The moderator eventually reminds him of the question she asked a while ago, about Trump's tax returns that were released by the New York Times. Pence says it shows that Trump "went through a very difficult time," and used the tax system "the way it's supposed to be used." Kaine asks how he can know that, since Trump hasn't released his tax returns. Kaine makes an important point: Pence needed to disclose his tax returns to be vetted by Trump, who hasn't even met the standards he applies to his own running mate. Pence also makes a good point by asking if Kaine takes all the deductions he can.
9:27 — In response to a question about Social Security, Kaine says Clinton's main focus would be raising the "payroll tax cap." Pence responds by channeling Ronald Reagan: "There they go again!"
9:31 — On guns, Kaine talks about his experience as Governor of Virginia during the Virginia Tech shooting, which he says could have been prevented with background checks.
9:32 — Pence tells Kaine: "Let me say, at the risk of agreeing with you . . . [painfully long pause] . . . community policing is a great idea." And he says we should "stop seizing on these moments of tragedy" to "demean law enforcement broadly by making accusations of implicit bias." Kaine retorts that we shouldn't be "afraid" to talk about police racism. Pence says it doesn't make sense to see black police officers as biased against blacks.
9:37 — Kaine argues that Trump/Pence will have a problem improving "law and order" given the "tone set from the top" — he reels off a lot of Trump's insults against "Mexicans," "women," John McCain, etc. Pence says that pales in comparison next to Clinton "calling half of Trump's supporters a 'basket of deplorables.'" But Kaine says at least Clinton apologized the next day — Trump never apologized for his comments about McCain last year.
9:45 — Kaine has been regularly interrupting Pence, usually with no comment from the moderator. Yet Quijano chastised Pence for interrupting at one point, and she also told both of them early on that we can't hear either of them when they overlap. I'd like to see a breakdown of how often they interrupted each other, and how often Quijano intervened over the interruptions — Kaine seems to have had virtually free rein to talk over Pence.
9:48 — Kaine yet again repeats Trump's comments about McCain, and connects it to Trump's statement that he knows more than US generals. Kaine says Trump has "a personal Mount Rushmore" of dictators, including Kim Jong-Un and Saddam Hussein. Pence lamely repeats that Kaine is using "prepared lines," and Kaine says: "Let's see if he can defend any of it!" Pence's strategy is clearly to be serious and somber, focus on substance (especially criticizing Clinton and President Obama), and not engage with Kaine's attacks on Trump.
9:54 — Kaine, pointing toward Pence: "These guys say all Mexicans are bad." Ah, but Trump told us in his campaign announcement speech he "assume[s]" some Mexican immigrants are "good people"! (A little after 11:00 in this video.)
9:55 — Quijano has started a new question while Pence is still speaking a few times now. I don't remember her doing that with Kaine.
10:02 — Kaine, again mocking Trump for his comments on Putin: "If you don't know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you need to go back to a 5th-grade civics class. I'll tell you what offends me . . ." Pence: "Well, that offends me!"
Bill Scher, a Democrat, comments:
Pence may be winning on style points, but there's no breakout moment here10:06 — Kaine quotes Reagan warning of a maniac (not his word — I didn't catch it) getting control of nuclear weapons, and says that's what a Trump presidency would be. Pence is appalled: "Senator, that was even beneath you and Hillary Clinton, and that's pretty low!"
10:08 — Kaine says he's asked Pence 6 times to defend Trump, and Pence has refused every time. Pence offers to defend Trump against Kaine's charges "one by one," so Kaine says Trump has said more countries should have nuclear weapons — "Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea." Pence flatly denies Trump has said that.
10:11 — Pence starts out his answer to a foreign-policy question by saying he's "just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign on the other side of the table!" When Kaine jumps in, Quijano finally tells Kaine: "Senator, please, this is Governor Pence's two minutes." She says essentially the same thing a couple minutes later.
10:14 — Kaine is asked: "What went wrong with the Russia reset?" He simply says: "Vladimir Putin is a dictator!" Kaine approvingly quotes McCain's line from one of the 2008 general-election debates that he looked in Putin's eyes and saw "KGB" (which itself was an allusion to George W. Bush's infamous statement about looking in Putin's eyes and getting "a sense of his soul").
Alex Knepper, who supports Clinton, has been pretty critical of Kaine:
Kaine needs to stop interrupting, like, now. . . .10:19 — Kaine describes the Trump Organization as "an octopus with tentacles all over the world."
Kaine is over-playing the bin Laden card. . . .
Enough with the John McCain stuff. Why does Kaine think it is such a killer line?
10:23 — The moderator asks when they've struggled to balance their faith with public policy. Kaine says: "The Catholic Church is against the death penalty, and so am I." But he had to sign off on executions as Governor of Virginia in cases where he saw no reason to grant clemency.
10:25 — Pence's answer to the religion question is about abortion, and he pivots to attacking Clinton and Kaine for supporting legal "partial-birth abortion," although he acknowledges that Kaine is "personally pro-life." Kaine responds that the law shouldn't enforce religious tenets; he supports Roe v. Wade; Pence would like to repeal Roe; Trump has said he'd "punish" women for getting abortions. Pence says of course women should never be punished for making the "heart-breaking" choice to get an abortion. Pence also brings up that Kaine supports the current law that federal funding can't be used for abortions — and Clinton would like to repeal that law.
Frank Luntz sums up his focus group: "Kaine is interrupting too much. The focus group wants the moderator to lay down the law and shut him up until it’s his turn.”
10:34 — Pence's closing statement: "The best way we can bring people together is through change in Washington, DC." Sounds like Obama '08.
That's all. Alex Knepper (who, again, supports Clinton) gives his assessment:
Final Grades: Pence: B; Kaine: B-; Verdict: WashCinzia Croce, who supports Trump but was "not a Pence fan" before the debate started, says this (co-blogging in the same post as Alex Knepper):
[Pence] was superb tonight. Whoever prepared him for the debate needs to help Trump for the next debate. Kaine . . . was nervous and seemed too focused on getting out the talking points he was given. I give Pence an A+ and Kaine a C+. And the moderator gets an F.Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, agrees with Cinzia Croce:
If Trump had been half as good as Pence last Monday, the race might look different right nowMy overall assessment: Kaine was very annoying, and Pence was soothing by contrast. They both went very negative against the other side's nominee (while being gentle toward each other as individuals), but Kaine's negativity was more grating. Kaine cleverly made Pence look weak for not defending Trump — although Pence also seemed sympathetic for often not being able to get a word in. Kaine might have scored more points. But Pence might have helped Trump's campaign more than Kaine helped Clinton's, because Trump so badly needed Pence's serious, presidential tone.
It was hard to get through this whole thing without once accidentally writing "Paine" — that I can tell you!