Unstructured VP Debate Allows Tim Kaine to Interrupt Mike Pence 70 Times

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine met in the only debate for the vice presidential nominees Tuesday night in Virginia. The most memorable part of the debate was Kaine interrupting Pence an astonishing 70 times. His attack dog posture came across as rude and unnecessary.

It was obvious from the start that Pence was more relaxed and composed. He would turn directly into the camera as he gave his reasons for the Trump – Pence ticket November 8th. The Indiana governor was calm, cool and collected throughout creating a stark contrast to the fast-talking and obviously nervous Kaine.

Pence utilized “Pence-ism.” He promoted compassionate conservatism which will do him well should he decide to run for president in 2020 or 2024. As a complete opposite of Trump’s brash behavior, he successfully met Kaine’s attacks on his running mate’s self-inflicted wounds. He did a world of good for the party’s ticket.

The 95-minute debate itself was borderline unwatchable. There was so much crosstalk, usually instigated by Kaine that it was difficult to get answers that were audible. It is very probable that millions of television viewers chose to watch the American League Orioles-Blue Jays wild card game that was on another station.

tim kaine interrupts mike pence 70 times.
Tim Kaine interrupts Mike Pence 70 times.

From the very beginning of the debate, Kaine came out swinging and constantly intervening in Pence’s questions provided by the debate moderator. It was obvious he had been coached to always be on his front foot in the debate, always be the aggressor. It didn’t work.

Kaine was so anxious to attack Pence, talking so quickly and trying to load so many Trump attacks into every answer that it made it virtually impossible to grasp any one attack. As the debate progressed to the middle of the hour-and-a-half, Kaine seemed to relax into it delivering an effective attack on Trump’s comments on women.

That was the exception, not the rule. When he wasn’t trying to input overwhelming statistics, he was relentlessly interrupting Pence. Every single time Pence started to level an attack against Clinton, Kaine immediately began to talk over him.

It didn’t come across well. One example was his interruption when Pence was recounting his personal experience on Sept. 11, 2001. Kaine interrupted to say “I was in Virginia.” Um, ok. Not a good look. It made him look like a child looking for mommy’s approval.

The moderator, Elaine Quijano, had her work cut out for her in this wild west-style debate of scraping cats. She had a next-to-impossible job. But it was obvious she lost control of the debate within minutes of it starting and never really got it back. She seemed powerless to separate the two men as questions were met with cross talk, usually from Kaine, making it impossible to ingest any real answers at all.

Quijano could never get the two to stop talking. There was no flow to the debate. Kaine and Pence would be feuding about, say, tax returns and Quijani, after getting the two men to stop talking, would say something like “Let’s talk about North Korea.”

It was basically a debate no one will remember aside from Kaine’s constant interruptions and Pence’s presidential demeanor and look. Maybe it showed the American people that it should be Pence at the top of the ticket.

First, some examples of them talking over each other.

Here is the full debate, with commentary from PBS Newshour.

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. He has written more than 3500 national political and foreign affairs columns. His BS in journalism from the University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.


Dwight has 30-years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. His first book, “Redistribution of Common Sense – Selective Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014,” was published in July, 2014. “The Game Changer – America’s Most Stunning Presidential Election in History,” was published in April 2017.


Dwight is a native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.