- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Tuesday night’s face-off between vice-presidential picks, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican, and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democrat, may not promise the fireworks of the first presidential debate — or the personal jabs — and that may be a good thing for the American public.

For there are sharp policy differences between the Republican and Democratic presidential ticket that Mr. Pence and Mr. Kaine may be best suited to articulate, given both Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity and polarization.

The Supreme Court on Monday said it wouldn’t rehear President Obama’s immigration plan, which would provide work authorization to more than 4 million illegal immigrants whose children are in the U.S. Mr. Trump has pledged to cancel Mr. Obama’s executive order, dubbed “The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” program, ending the court battles. Mrs. Clinton said she’d go further than Mr. Obama’s plan.

Mr. Trump said that in addition to rescinding the executive order, he’d build a wall along the Mexican border. Mr. Pence, since joining Mr. Trump’s ticket, has advocated to both measures. Mr. Kaine stands opposed.

Obamacare is another topic that hasn’t received much debate within the presidential election. Mr. Pence said he’d abolish the Affordable Care Act, while Mr. Kaine wouldn’t. Insurance premiums are set to spike, and offerings diminish in most cities because of a lack of competition on the Obamacare exchanges — meaning whichever party wins the White House, changes will need to be made. Mr. Kaine advocates for more government intervention, and Mr. Pence, less.

On the economy, views also diverge.

Mr. Kaine supports a minimum-wage increase; Mr. Pence does not. During Mr. Kaine’s time as Virginia’s governor, he sought to raise taxes to fill budget shortfalls. Mr. Pence enacted the largest income tax cut in Indiana’s history.

The pair splits on social issues, too. Mr. Pence in speeches repeatedly says he’s a “Christian, conservative, and Republican” in that order. He signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that was criticized by liberals for allowing business owners to deny service to people because of their religious beliefs. Mr. Pence will undoubtedly need to defend that bill in Tuesday night’s debate.

Mr. Kaine, a self-professed Catholic, doesn’t allow his beliefs to get in the way of liberal policy. He’s signed onto one of the most progressive abortion platforms in democratic party history, pledging to abolish the Hyde Amendment, which restricts taxpayer money from being spent to pay for abortions.

Although both men will be on the stage, their bosses will probably take center focus. So long as debate moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News keeps the topics honed in on policy, that shouldn’t matter. There are key differences among Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton that can perhaps be best expressed when they’re not on the stage throwing mud on each other.

Because Mr. Kaine and Mr. Pence are both not particularly well-known among the American people — more than one-third of voters don’t know enough about either man to form an opinion — their debate Tuesday night at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, has the chance of changing some minds.

It’s also a good getting-to-know you opportunity. How would each man approach the role of vice presidency? How significant a player has Mr. Pence been in Mr. Trump’s campaign? When has Mr. Trump taken Mr. Pence’s advice? Likewise, how does Mr. Kaine view his role with Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, for that matter? Does he feel his voice may somehow be diminished with two presidents working in the White House for the first time?

If Tuesday night’s vice-presidential match-up comes down to another discussion on Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the marriages of Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, or Mr. Trump’s taxes, than the American people have lost. We’ll know that about 30 minutes in to the 90-minute debate. Let’s hope for something of substance from two sharply different, but experienced, policymakers.



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