Mike Pence and Tim Kaine Face Off in the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate: Everything That Happened

The 2016 vice presidential debate is in the books! Mike Pence and Tim Kaine battled it out on Tuesday, October 4, ahead of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump‘s November presidential election. And check out our picks for the five craziest moments! (“This is important,” anyone?)

Here is Us Weekly‘s by-the-minute roundup of everything that happened during the heated event, moderated by Elaine Quijano. Be sure to start reading at the bottom to get it in chronological order. 

10:44 p.m. ET: In the end, the debate closed on a highly predictable note for both candidates. The final question: How will each of these presidential campaigns unite our very divided nation in the event of a victory?

Kaine not only got back on message, he went straight for the campaign slogan: “Stronger together” won’t just be the motto that takes Clinton to the White House, he said, but the overarching plan for a presidency that benefits all Americans, whether they voted for her or not.

And Pence, who displayed a decidedly un-Trumpian measure of control throughout tonight’s debate, still ended with an answer that the GOP nominee will definitely appreciate: the promise of a “comeback” in strength and power, which will make every red-blooded human being within our borders proud to be members of Team America.

10:36 p.m. ET: After a lot of talk about America’s role in international relations, the debate veered at last into a topic much closer to home — and heart. How have our vice presidential candidates, both devoutly religious men, struggled to reconcile their private beliefs with a life in public service?

Kaine went first, describing his missionary parents as his heroes before making a point to say that no one religion is meant to be the law of the land. He sees his religious beliefs as separate from his duty to uphold the law — an issue he confronted head-on as the governor of a state where the death penalty was law, despite his own personal abhorrence of executions as punishment. (Kaine’s struggle to reconcile his religious view with his public duty was well-documented in this New York Times profile about his governorship.)

Pence also discussed his commitment to life — not for convicted felons, but for the unborn.

“For me, the sanctity of life proceeds out of … the ancient principle, where God says, ‘Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you.’ I’ve sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life.”

To be fair, Pence — a very pro-life politician — hasn’t so much struggled with this issue as supported remaking the laws in line with his beliefs, including one this year which came under serious scrutiny for its requirement that women who experienced miscarriages either cremate or inter the “fetal remains.”

Kaine countered with a question that Pence chose not to answer: “Why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves?”

10:23 p.m. ET: If you’re getting a strong sense of dèja vu during this debate, you’re not alone. The topic at hand was supposed to be North Korea, but the discussion immediately derailed into attacks by Pence, then Kaine, on their respective opposition’s charitable foundations. In response to accusations of corruption by the Clinton Foundation, Kaine came out with a counter-accusation against Trump’s own organization.

“The Trump foundation is an octopuslike organization with tentacles all over the world,” Kaine said. And how might we know what secrets lie at the heart of this tentacled beast? You guessed it: TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS.

The best thing that can be said about Tim Kaine’s performance at this point is that he’s hitting all his talking points.

Into the ground.

With a giant hammer. 

10:15 p.m. ET: We’ve finally come around to discussing Russian influence on U.S. politics, although of course, Kaine has been talking about Russia all night. However, the ensuing conversation was less about each respective candidate’s intended policy vis-à-vis Russia, and more a prolonged “Did not!” and “Did, too!” argument about what Trump has or hasn’t said about Russian leadership during his campaign.

The meatier answers come toward the end, when Quijano asked a pointed question: Why would Putin respect a Trump presidency where he hasn’t respected the current one? Pence replied, “Strength. Plain and simple.” 

10:03 p.m. ET: You’ve gotta feel bad for Elaine Quijano, who was having an even harder time than Lester Holt when it comes to keeping the candidates on topic. Her request to move on to discussing Syria was met with a lot of nonresponses that veered ever more wildly off topic.

To begin with, Pence got quite specific about how America would flex its muscles on the world stage if Trump was elected — including taking steps to exert itself against Russia.

Kaine points out that Trump’s campaign has had a problematic relationship with Russia so far, to say the least, particularly when it comes to the candidate’s apparent admiration for Vladimir Putin. But incredibly, he pivoted midresponse and brought it back to Trump’s tax returns. When poor Quijano tried to steer him back on message, Kaine’s response was a sad puppy face:

“This is important, Elaine!”

This might mark the point at which Pence stopped taking Kaine’s bait; his rejoinder was relatively on-topic by comparison.

9:53 p.m. ET: Next topic tonight: terrorism. As always, ISIS was a major focus. Kaine kept on-message, outlining the specific points of Clinton’s plan to disrupt and defeat ISIS. But he saved his most memorable line for an offensive against the GOP nominee.

“Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot,” said Kaine.


Pence shot back that Kaine had clearly spent a lot of time preparing that response (which may be true, but hardly soothes the burn).

Like Trump, Pence did not get specific about the step-by-steps of putting down ISIS. Instead, he took the opportunity to say that ISIS itself is Clinton’s fault — or at least the fault of policies she was involved in. Pence’s argument: that withdrawing troops from the Middle East and failing to lay the foundation for peaceful movement forward allowed the violent fundamentalist ideology to take root. 

9:41 p.m. ET: It took 40 minutes, but we have our first “wait, did that just happen?” moment of tonight’s debate: Pence claimed that “an avalanche of insults” had emerged from Kaine’s mouth, after Kaine repeated multiple derogatory comments made by … Donald Trump. The best part is that Pence is not wrong, exactly — that was, indeed, a whole lotta insults! — but considering their source … Well. Awkward.

9:38 p.m. ET: A more productive discussion was had when the debate turned to the question of policing, with many callbacks to the topic as discussed during the first presidential debate last month. Kaine, for his part, talked up community involvement, Clinton’s mental health plan and his own ability to see both sides of the second amendment discussion. Unlike many Democrats, Kaine is a gun owner, but he was also governor of Virginia during the ghastly shooting at Virginia Tech. In other words, he sees the need for gun control even as he’s committed to the right to bear arms.

Pence, like Donald Trump did in response to the same question, took the opportunity to say two words: law and order. He also took umbrage at Clinton’s mention last week of implicit bias as a problem not just in policing, but across the country.

“Senator, please. Enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement with accusations of implicit bias,” Pence said.

Kaine countered: “If you’re afraid to have the discussion, you’ll never solve it.”

9:27 p.m. ET: When the subject of Donald Trump’s tax returns came up, Mike Pence took an interesting (and new!) tack: Instead of countering with a dig at Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, Pence claimed that Trump has revealed the necessary information by releasing some financial documents … just not the ones everyone wants to see.

Again, the discussion devolved into cross-talk and interruption — this time so over-the-top that Quijano had to remind the candidates that nobody (and particularly not the people watching this event on television) can understand them when they’re jabbering all over each other. 

9:22 p.m. ET: A question for each man about their respective presidential nominees started out OK, as Tim Kaine praised Hillary Clinton for her lifelong passion for helping people — with a particular focus on empowering families. However, what started as a means of humanizing Hillary soon turned into an all-out attack on Trump. Within a span of 30 seconds, Kaine mentioned a number of Trump’s greatest (read: most controversial) hits, including his comment characterizing Mexicans as rapists, and his longtime commitment to birtherism.

In response, Pence attacked Obama’s policy on Syria — which Clinton was involved in, as secretary of state — and then slipped in a mention of Russia that roused an instant interruption from Kaine. Not gonna lie: The next five minutes were such a mess of cross-talk and flailing that even Us struggled to keep track of who said what (and neither could poor Elaine Quijano, who tried unsuccessfully over and over to get the nominees back on topic).

9:13 p.m. ET: Elaine Quijano of CBS News is tonight’s moderator, and after a lovely introduction for the VP candidates — who are dressed virtually identically except for their tie colors (red for Tim Kaine, blue for Mike Pence) — she got right to the question that’s really at the heart of the vice presidency. Namely: What happens if, heaven forfend, the president dies, and they have to step into that office?

Tim Kaine went first with an answer that wasn’t an answer, actually, but a very on-message spiel about what a great candidate Hillary Clinton is. Even when he got to his qualifications — a long history in public service that ranged from missionary work to being a councilman and senator — he described his strengths in terms of what Clinton liked about him: an ability to stay focused on their goal to make a difference in people’s lives.

Pence, by contrast, didn’t mention Donald Trump at all in his response. Instead, he focused on his humble roots: “I grew up with a cornfield in my backyard,” he said, going on to describe his journey from backyard cornfield-haver to governor of Indiana, “a state that works.” His qualifications for the highest office? In short: “A lifetime of experience.”

9 p.m. ET: The one-and-only 2016 vice presidential debate starts now, but believe it or not, we may already have seen the biggest gaffe of the evening. Perhaps because vice presidential debates have a reputation for being predictable, the Republican leadership decided to go ahead and write their response to the event well in advance. The GOP’s official position, unsurprisingly, was (will be?) that Mike Pence is the winner — which we know because somebody accidentally posted the recap on their website hours before he appeared onstage. Whoops. 

8 p.m. ET: What will happen when Mike Pence and Tim Kaine go head-to-head in 2016’s first and only vice presidential debate on Tuesday, October 4, ahead of November’s election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

Mike Pence and Tim Kaine
Mike Pence (left) and Tim Kaine Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images; Alexander Tamargo/WireImage

If history is any indication, the answer is probably “not much” — or at least, not much that will affect the outcome of the election one way or another. The VP debate, while a time-honored tradition, is also traditionally a low-stakes event that does little to sway public opinion (although it has been the setting for a few memorable zingers, including, “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy”).

But in an election year like this one, when the presidential ballot includes a bombastic reality TV star on one side and the first-ever female major party contender for the presidency on the other, who’s to say that their seconds-in-command won’t break new ground and make this debate a must-watch?

There’s only one way to find out, and we’re doing it: Us Weekly will be watching the 2016 vice presidential debate and delivering minute-by-minute updates on the candidates’ respective remarks. 

Will Kaine’s cool-dad persona give Clinton a boost in the polls? Will Pence be dogged by Trump’s difficulties in the aftermath of last week’s presidential debate

Stick with Us to find out!

The 2016 vice presidential debate airs on all networks on Tuesday, October 4, at 9 p.m. ET.

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