In the hours since the Vice Presidential debate ended we’ve seen a growing number of pundits come to agreement on who won the debate. Overwhelmingly, the talking heads and the media voices seem to believe that while Democrat Tim Kaine made some good points, GOP VP nominee Mike Pence was the unquestioned winner of the VP debate.
The Weekly Standard’s Steven Hayes was a guest on Fox News after the debate, and he explained that he thought Pence won the debate by making a strong conservative case against a 3rd Obama/Clinton term.
Meanwhile over on CNN, Democrat strategist and Obama fanboy David Axelrod was explaining that Tim Kaine lost because he overplayed his attacks on Trump by constantly interrupting the calm, relaxed and more adult Pence.
I think that Tim Kaine was asked to play a role here that he isn’t particularly comfortable with. Tim Kaine is a very positive, ebullient character and was asked to be an attack dog here and I think he wasn’t entirely comfortable in that role and the strategy of interrupting I think was probably overdone.
Axelrod also admitted that in terms of substance, Pence had himself a strong debate.
Mike Pence, stylistically, as you point out, did very well. But I would point out, on the substance of some of these issues, I thought Pence was very muscular in the foreign policy debate, although he seemed to depart from Donald Trump in big ways including his approach to Putin.
In fact, things went so badly for Kaine that an entire focus group of undecided voters in Ohio agreed that Mike Pence was the clear victor in the debate. The focus group was conducted by polling expert Frank Luntz for the CBS postdebate show, with shocking clarity. One woman in the group said something that most of her fellow-undecided voters seemed to agree with, “Kaine cherry-picked things that made Donald Trump sound like a crazy person, and he came off looking like a crazy person.”
Ouch. Clearly, Clinton now has some work to do to erase the Kaine debacle from the public’s memory. The larger question is, did Pence do well enough to help Donald Trump gain some ground on Hillary Clinton and seal the deal with voters who were already leaning his way?