It was a historic evening at Longwood University in Farmville, VA, as CBSN anchor Elaine Quijano moderated the televised debate.
There were a number of tense exchanges between the two candidates during the 90-minute debate. The candidates touched on many topics, such as Social Security, law enforcement, race, immigration, and the economy.
“Donald Trump and I have a plan to get this economy moving again. Lowering taxes across the board for working families, small business owners and family farms,” Pence said.
Kaine responded, “His (Donald Trump) tax plan basically helps him, and if he ever kept his promise and gave his tax returns to the American public, we’d see his economic plan is a ‘Trump first’ plan.”
With the recent racial tensions in Charlotte, NC, both vice presidential candidates were asked about law enforcement relations and race in America.
“I think we put a lot on police shoulders. And this is something I got a lot of scar tissue and experience on,” Kaine said.
Pence noted his uncle who was a career cop in Downtown Chicago.
“Police officers are the best of us. And the men and women, white, African-American, Asian, Latino, Hispanic, they put their lives on the line every single day. And let my say, at the risk of agreeing with you, community policing is a great idea. It’s worked in the Hoosier state. And we fully support that.”
Kaine repeatedly interrupted Pence throughout the evening, while Pence rarely reciprocated. The Republican nominee was asked about the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed a crime but would be deported under Trump.
“Donald Trump’s laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country. Donald Trump has a plan that he laid out in Arizona, that will deal systemically with illegal immigration, beginning with border security, internal enforcement,” said Pence, “It’s probably why for the first time in the history of Immigration and Customs Enforcement their union actually endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, because they know they need help to enforce the laws of this country.”
Kaine repeatedly attacked Trump, while Pence mostly didn’t take the bait.
“Did Donald Trump apologize for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologize for saying African-Americans are living in hell?,” asked Kaine, “Did he apologize for saying President Obama was not even a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain to see Donald Trump ever taking responsibility for anybody and apologizing.”
The candidates also debated terrorism and safety in America.
“The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways, because bin Laden is dead,” Kaine said.
“I can make very clear to the American people, after traveling millions of miles as our secretary of state, after being the architect of the foreign policy of this administration, America is less safe today than it was the day that Barack Obama became president of the United States,” said Pence, “It’s absolutely inarguable.”
Pence praised President Obama for executing the Al-Qaida leader in 2011 but tried to hold the Democrat administration responsible for creating ISIS. Pence continued the attack discussing the Clinton Foundation and the recently published AP story regarding the millions of dollars the foundation received from other countries, prompting this response from Kaine:
“The Clinton Foundation is one of the highest rated charities in the world. It provides AIDS drugs to about 11.5 million people. It helps Americans deal with opioid overdoses. It gets higher rankings for its charity than the American Red Cross does. The Clinton Foundation does an awful lot of good work.”
Quijano, a Filipino American and the the first Asian American to moderate a national debate in a general election, touched on each candidates’ Christian beliefs and social issues, including abortion. Pence no longer identifies as a Catholic, though he was raised as one.
“I know you’ve historically opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to — wants to repeal the longstanding provision in the law where we said we wouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion,” Pence said.
“So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about them. We support Roe v. Wade,” Kaine responded, “We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but then make their own decision about pregnancy. That’s something we trust American women to do that.”
The two presidential nominees return to the debate stage Sunday, Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Clinton and Trump will face off for the second time in a town hall with questions posed from the audience. The third and final debate will take place at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, NV, Oct. 19th.