Ezra Klein - Unpacking the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate

October 4, 2016 - Ezra Klein 10/04/2016 Views: 23,849

Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of Vox.com, weighs in on the debate between vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence and breaks down the running mates' roles. (4:38)

Watch Full Episode

Please welcome Ezra Klein,everybody!

-(cheering, applause)-Welcome to the show, sir.

Let's jump straight into it.

This was exciting. Am I right?

-It was a thrilling eveningfor us all. -Yeah?

What was the craziest partof the debate for you, man?

-The beginning. When it began.-Yeah.

-So, this was, I actually think-Yeah.

it wa a weird a debate, right?

It was actually probably oneof the weirdest ones

we've seen in presidentialpolitics in a long time.

You do not typically seea running mate

go intoa vice presidential debate

and simply refuse to defendhis top-of-the-ticket

-candidate's record. -You'retalking about Mike Pence now.

-Right? He just... he just...-Maybe. Maybe.

he just flat-out refusedto defend...

I think he said one time,"I will defend Donald Trump,"

but that wasfor one specific thing.

He... You knowwhat it feels like, is, like,

he's not watching Donald Trumpthe same way we are.

Yeah, I mean, there wasa strange dimension here,

where Mike Pence won the debateand Donald Trump lost it.

Right? Mike Pencedid a good job stylistically,

and the way he did it wasby refusing to actually engage

or even admit the things DonaldTrump has been saying and doing.

-Right.-When somebody tells Mike Pence

he is Donald Trump'svice president,

-that guy's gonna be shocked.-(laughter)

-It's gonna be a terrible...-You know what? It's funny.

It feels like he did not...There were times

when he was laughing,and he was going,

"No one would say that,no one would... You guys..."

He even said to Kaine,"Where are you coming up

with these lines from?Where are you thinking of..."

This is a debate thatpeople are watching at home.

I have one questionI kept asking.

What is the pointof this debate?

So, it was strange thatthey both seemed to come in

with a different point.

Typically, the pointof a running mate debate

is to make the top of the ticketlook good.

So what Tim Kaine did was hecame in and he basically dumped

the Hillary Clinton campaign'soppo on Donald Trump.

-Yeah. -He had a list after listof every noxious thing

-Trump has said...-And he memorized the lines...

He memorized the lines, yep.Very impressive.

Mike Pence came in and madeMike Pence look good for 2020.

He didn't really try to makean architectural argument

about the Donald Trump campaign.

He split from the Trump campaignvery sharply on Russia.

If you werea Republican watching,

I think you probably felta lot of regret

that you nominatedthe other guy.

-But that wasn't good for theother guy. -Wait, wait, wait.

Do you really think it's 2020,or do you think

that Mike Pence was going,"Hey, everybody, calm down,

"'cause I'm gonna bethe real president,

so don't stress about this"?

Because we've heard storiesfrom the Kasich camp,

we've heard stories from people

who've come in contactwith Trump who say

Trump doesn't wantto be president,

Trump just wants to wave,he just wants to be, like,

in a Miss Universe pageantbut for the president, right?

That's what he wants to do.And Pence was almost going,

"I'm the real president."You didn't feel that?

No, not at...Has it been your impression

Donald Trump listensto a lot of people?

I mean thatin a very serious way.

-(laughter) -It soundslike a trick question.

Right? He... The most amazingmoment of the debate

-Yeah. -was Mike Pence wason that stage saying repeatedly

the Hillary Clinton campaignis the insult campaign.

-Yes. -Donald Trump wasliterally retweeting people

insulting Tim Kainewhile that happened.

Yes. Like,while the debate was happening.

-It was happening simultaneouslytonight, repeatedly. -Yes. Yes.

And, so, Donald Trump,one of the things

that is, I think,very fundamental about him,

his argument as a candidate hasbeen, "Look, I'm a businessman,

-I'm a manager, I will hirethe best people." -Uh-huh.

The thing we have found

over and over and over againin this campaign,

you can argue aboutwho Donald Trump is hiring,

but it almost doesn't matter--he doesn't listen to them.

He goes off and doeswhat he wants to do.

He live-tweetedhis own running mate's debate,

just personally.

He, at one point, retweetedsomebody whose Twitter account

talks about white genocide.

I mean, this guyis not sitting there

working under the auspicesof staff

and a campaign architecture.

-He's just his own guy. -He'srunning everything himself.

Mike Pence is not gonna have...If Mike Pence had a lot

of influence over Donald Trump,Donald Trump would not be doing

any of the thingsDonald Trump is doing.

That's interestingthat you say that.

It felt like Pence won,as you said.

You know, Pence was out there,he was looking good,

he seemed almost presidential.

Tim Kaine, on his side, didhe do a good job or a bad job?

He, I think, stylistically...

This is the hard part abouthow the media does debates.

There's one part of us wherewe're trying to put ourselves

in the mind of a voter

who doesn't know that muchabout politics

-Yeah.-and is watching in Ohio.

Then there's the question of:did the things they were saying

on the stage add up,did they make sense?

I think Tim Kaine had a lotof stylistic trouble tonight,

but he forced Mike Pence toanswer for a lot of the things

Donald Trump has said.

Mike Pence was stylisticallyvery strong,

and he did not score a lotof points on Hillary Clinton.

So there's gonna be a lot of adscoming tomorrow where Mike Pence

is saying, "Of courseDonald Trump didn't say that,"

and then immediately,you're gonna hear

-Donald Trump saying that.-Well, the most important thing

is nobody watched,so it doesn't really matter.

-Thank you so muchfor being here. -Thank you.

Ezra Klein, everybody.