Poll, Pundits Call Pence Winner of VP Debate
He was the calm face of the Trump campaign
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2016 3:45 AM CDT
Updated Oct 5, 2016 6:09 AM CDT
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine flashes a thumbs up and Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence looks on after the vice-presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.   (Joe Raedle/Pool via AP)
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(Newser) – Like him or loathe him, choosing apprentices appears to be one thing Donald Trump definitely excels at. Numerous pundits are calling Trump running mate Mike Pence the winner of Tuesday night's vice presidential debate, thanks in part to his calm demeanor in response to an aggressive, interrupting Tim Kaine, though Pence failed to land any knockout blows on his rival. According to a CNN poll, 48% of debate watchers consider Pence the winner, compared to 42% for the Democrat. A round-up of opinions:

  • Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post declares the "cool, calm, collected" Pence the winner over Kaine, who was "trying to load so many Trump attacks into every answer that it made it virtually impossible to grasp any one attack." But Pence probably made a better case for Pence 2020 than he did for Trump 2016, Cillizza writes—and overall, the debate was like "watching two kids throw mashed potatoes at each other," only less entertaining.

  • At RedState, Caleb Howe sees Pence as the clear winner and Kaine—who "tried to be an attack dog but came off more like a yipping pup nipping at the mailman's heels"—as the clear loser. But another loser, he writes, is Trump, partly because "Pence winning only shows how truly terrible Trump was during his debate."
  • Dan Roberts at the Guardian also says it was a bad night for Kaine. When "he should have calmly shredded the inconsistencies between Trump and the rest of planet Republican, he came across as the nervous and jittery one," Roberts writes, calling it a missed opportunity because "so much of what the vice-presidential nominee had to say in defense of his boss did not pass the smell test."
  • Pence succeeded in giving the Trump campaign a calm face after more than a week of turmoil, writes Errol Louis at CNN, who credits the Indiana governor's years as a radio talk show host for the smooth performance. Pence, he writes, has "demonstrated to other Trump supporters how to defend their candidate without doubling down on his abrasive style."
  • The big loser here was the truth, according to Politico, which notes that the facts "started taking a beating" when Pence called Longwood University "Norwood University," and takes a look at inaccurate statements from both candidates on issues including foreign policy, taxes, and immigration.