Short on Substance, Kaine Fires Interruptions
CBS moderator struggled to rein in Clinton's running mate as he cut Pence off over 40 times
Elaine Quijano, the CBS News moderator of the vice presidential debate, started off Tuesday night struggling to keep control of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, who interrupted both her and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence repeatedly.
Kaine, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, did not feel bound by time limits, and he interrupted Indiana Gov. Mike Pence 39 times by Fox News’ count and as many as 70+ times by the count of the Republican National Committee.
“Moderator Elaine Quijano did her part to carry water for Tim Kaine tonight and he really needed it … Each week, journalists make the case to remove journalists from the debate process.”
For Quijano, it was the first time on such a prominent stage.
The CBS News anchor and moderator is a second-generation Filipino-American, and is also the first Asian-American journalist to moderate a national debate. She is only 42. She was the second-youngest debate moderator in modern history, exceeded in youth only by CNN anchor and correspondent Judy Woodruff. Woodruff moderated a debate in 1988, when she was 41, according to CBS News and Variety.
The Commission on Presidential Debates wanted to diversify the moderators, but they might want to take another look at moderating experience.
Quijano struggled to maintain control of Kaine, who often interrupted Pence. Even when Kaine used his own time, he drifted off-topic to attack Donald Trump.
“The question is about Aleppo, Senator,” said Quijano, a little sheepishly.
Quijano also let Kaine interrupt twice during a nuclear-weapons question.
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And when Kaine made outrageous assertions — on tax returns, the invasion of the Ukraine, or nuclear war — Kaine kept pressing. Pence could hardly suppress his reaction when he got time back.
“Well, thanks,” Pence said. ” I am just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign.”
But even as Pence pivoted to attacks on Hillary Clinton, Kaine interrupted.
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When asked why Russia would respect the United States, Pence simply said strength. Before he could continue, Kaine interrupted again.
“Did no one inform Elaine Quijano that the role of a moderator is to ask questions and take a step back while the candidates debate?” Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center said in a statement. “Quijano and Virginia’s over-caffeinated senator repeatedly challenged and interrupted Gov. Pence. By the looks of it, he didn’t mind the 2-1 disadvantage.”
The Twitterverse noticed long before the debate ended.
“Moderator doing a poor job of stopping ceaseless Kaine interruptions,” Fox News anchor Brit Hume tweeted. “Pence more fluid on national/international issues. So Kaine interrupts.”
Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post political correspondent, tweeted: “I haven’t heard this much talking over each other about politics since my last family reunion.”
Republicans also objected.
“16 TIMES — The number of times moderator has tried to stop @timkaine for interrupting #VPDebate,” tweeted Sean Spicer, a top strategist for the Republican National Committee just halfway though the contest.
Dan Gainor, the vice president of Business and Culture for Media Research Center, said once again, the moderator let the Democrats take control.
“Well, that wasn’t much different,” Gainor said in an email. “CBS anchor and moderator Elaine Quijano did her part to carry water for Tim Kaine tonight and he really needed it. She asked repeated tough questions of Trump and one of Kaine. Each week, journalists make the case to remove journalists from the debate process.”