Conservative Column

Kaine and Pence hold on to party values during debate

/ The Daily Orange

The first and only vice presidential debate so far has answered at least one major question on everyone’s minds: where do the candidates fall on the political spectrum? In short, exactly where you think they would.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — Donald Trump’s running mate — and United States Sen. Tim Kaine — Hillary Clinton’s running mate — had strong stances on the economy, foreign policy, education and social issues, but it was essentially a predictable debate. There were a few shocking statements from each side, including Kaine stating he personally believes that abortion is wrong. But for the most part, Kaine and Pence each seemed to be the model liberal and the model conservative, respectively.

While some viewers may have been looking for something new from the vice presidential picks, the goal of this debate was to justify their presidential nominee more than themselves. If they had said anything out of the ordinary, it would only add to the chaos that is this already-crazy election cycle.

Confronting criminal justice reform

When it came to relations between the black community and law enforcement, Pence took one of the textbook conservative stances. He ran with the “law and order” theme that has been at the core of the Trump campaign, most boldly demonstrated by Pence’s support of the stop-and-frisk law, which was proven statistically to target people of color when it was in effect.

Whereas Pence seemed hesitant to admit that there is any bias within the justice system, Kaine stood with his party’s stance that minorities are being treated unfairly. Pence proudly stated that he supported criminal justice reform while he was in office, but the reform that he put in place wasn’t necessarily helpful. In fact, he voted for tougher sentences for nonviolent drug dealers, when it has become very clear that the war on drugs has indeed failed.

Making sense of foreign policy

As expected, Kaine propped up Clinton by giving her credit for her foreign policy during her time as secretary of state. Meanwhile, Pence attempted to persuade the audience that the U.S. is more unsafe now than it has been in a long time. Pence assigned blame to Clinton for allowing the creation of the Islamic State group, claiming that the early withdrawal of American troops from Iraq contributed greatly to the current issue.

When it came to the Iran nuclear deal, Pence stood strong against the very weak deal, as it only adds to the problem of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. But overall, he still could not defend Trump’s foreign policy stances.

Like most Democrats, Kaine referenced the Iran deal as solving the issue without firing a single shot. This is essentially a bold-faced lie, as the deal is incredibly fragile and has already proven to be ineffective. Kaine’s positivity toward the deal is to be expected, as it has received tremendous support within the Democratic party.

Kaine did, however, demonstrate a respect for the Constitution — a respect that is nowhere to be found within the Trump campaign. Banning all Muslims from entering the country is a clear violation of the Constitution. The suggestion for the ban on Muslims is not only unconstitutional, but has no statistical justification and would exclude over a billion people from entering the country.

The end result

Kaine had a seemingly easy time supporting and defending Clinton, but Pence’s truly conservative views prevented him from defending his politically irregular presidential candidate. Pence tried to distance himself from several ideas Trump is supporting, most notably the suggestion of banning Muslims from entering the country.

This makes it clear why exactly Trump chose Pence as his running mate: he needed a typical conservative in order to win over the Republican party. It’s essentially the same situation for Clinton. Kaine is liberal across the board, and choosing him as a running mate helps Clinton bring all the votes in from those who saw her as being too centrist.

Overall, the vice presidential candidates offered nothing out of the ordinary. Kaine attempted to depict Clinton as a trustworthy person despite her questionable past, and Pence tried to make Trump appear less sporadic. In the grand scheme of things, this debate probably didn’t change many minds. But the potential VPs’ alignments with the typical conservative and liberal are crucial for pulling a victory in for their party.

Alex Deitrich is a freshman history major. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at




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