Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine aggressively challenged Donald Trump’s qualifications for the presidency Tuesday night, casting him as a “me-first” mogul who won’t level with Americans about his business record. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence lashed back with criticism of Hillary Clinton but didn’t dispute that running mate Trump hadn’t paid federal taxes for years.
The two men, who have received little attention in a race focused on the top two candidates, faced off for 90 minutes in the only vice presidential debate of the campaign.
On taxes and Trump, Pence declared that “he used the tax code just the way it’s supposed to be used, and he did it brilliantly.”
Kaine, Clinton’s usually easygoing No. 2, went on the attack from the start, repeatedly interrupting Pence an equally genial politician who continued on with mostly measured responses.
Kaine pressured Pence to answer for some of his running mate’s often controversial statements, using Trump’s own words including some of the Republican’s demeaning comments about women. He also challenged Pence on Trump’s decision to break with decades of campaign tradition by not releasing his taxes.
“Donald Trump must give the American public his tax returns to show he’s prepared to be president, and he’s breaking his promise,” Kaine said.
Seeking to draw a contrast with Clinton and Kaine, Pence said Trump was “a businessman, not a career politician.” He panned the Democrats for offering frustrated Americans “more of the same.” He also leapt on former President Bill Clinton’s criticism this week of “Obamacare,” saying Trump would repeal the measure but not specifying what he would replace it with.