Families across the U.S. tuned in to watch Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine meet in the first and only vice presidential debate of the 2016 race, held at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. And here is what they — the old and the young, the seniors and the millennials — saw.
Pence came out confidently and moved from strength to strength, according to Maryland resident Carole Purcell, 52. “He won. His experience showed, his natural strengths showed. I was clapping in front of the TV within the first five minutes,” she said.
“Kaine seemed petty — like that kid in grade school who’s always telling on everyone, but in reality is a bully,” said one viewer.
Several watching thought Pence’s overall demeanor far outshone Kaine’s. “Kaine seemed petty — like that kid in grade school that’s always telling on everyone, but is in reality a bully,” said mom-of-three Nicole Getty of Amarillo, Texas. “Pence was strong and steady. Pair Pence’s calm assertiveness with Trump’s vision and passion. We’re seeing an [sic] historic team form here.”
“Police officers are the best of us,” said Pence during the first half of the debate. Moments later, he noted, “Let’s not have the reflex of assuming the worst of men and women in law enforcement, a force for good.”
Donald Trump soon tweeted out, “I agree, Mike — thank you to all our law enforcement officers.”
“A breath of fresh air,” said Getty. “He seemed to calm down Kaine’s fever pitch. It reminds me of candidates from my parents’ era, who actually talked issues and didn’t smear each other non-stop.”
When the topic turned to undocumented immigrants, Pence said of the Democrats, “You’ve been talking it [immigration] to death for 20 years.”
“He’s right — we need jobs,” said one Stoneham, Massachusetts, father of four. “Not facing the facts makes us more vulnerable and poorer as individuals and as a country. I’m so frustrated with this issue, honestly.”
“Tim Kaine scares me,” Connecticut attorney and mom of two college students Susan Williams told LifeZette halfway through the debate. “He seems so angry — like he’s going to explode. Pence is much more controlled.”
At 9:45 p.m., an Iowan father and grandfather, John Brubaker, 55, wanted Pence to go for more of the jugular. “He’s missing the chance to lay the birther issue back on Hillary — and I think he should,” he said.
Matthew Monahan, a 25-year-old Army veteran from Johnston, Rhode Island, said, “All Kaine’s points are failed plans tried already by the Obama administration, under Hillary Clinton’s reign as secretary of state — Obamacare and stopping ISIS, just as two examples. As Pence said, any gains made in the Middle East were lost by Clinton and the Obama administration. ISIS formed right under Hillary Clinton’s watch.”
By 10 p.m., Purcell in Maryland saw weaknesses in the moderator Elaine Quijano. “She’s allowing them to talk over each other too much,” she noted.
The topic of the Clinton Foundation was on the table in the latter potion of the debate.
“I am glad to talk about the foundation,” said Kaine, smiling.
“He has to — Pence has pretty much just said that the foundation is just a hoax for millions of dollars of bribery,” laughed Army veteran Monahan.
Getty felt Kaine was too polished, too rehearsed for the head-to-head.
“Kaine said he asks when evaluating candidates, ‘Do they have a passion that showed up before they were in public life?’ and suggested that Clinton’s passion is family and children,” said Getty. “Is he kidding? Hillary does not empower kids — she’s for abortion, she’s for open borders, and she is blatantly suspicious of law enforcement. How much more anti-family can one person be?”
“Tim Kaine scares me,” said one Connecticut mom. “He seems so angry, like he’s going to explode.”
Faith was a topic in the last portion of the debate. “Kaine said his biggest faith struggle was the death penalty, when he is against the 20-week pain-capable act for aborted babies?” marveled one incredulous mother of three in Boston.
“That confounds me,” she continued, “that he believes that a baby who can feel pain should still be aborted — and that takes a back seat to the death penalty.”
Army veteran Monahan believes Pence lives his faith — something vitally important to many Americans. “He said at one point earlier tonight, ‘Mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve.’ That is Romans 12:15 in the Bible — and they weren’t talking about faith when he said that.”
Purcell had just one question about Hillary Clinton after the debate was over. “Do you think Hillary stayed awake for the debate,” she wondered, “or is she already asleep?”