Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine have squared off in the only vice presidential debate scheduled ahead of the US election. Kaine repeatedly challenged Pence to defend statements made by Donald Trump.
Mike Pence, the vice presidential running mate for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, faced repeated waves of attacks from Democrat Tim Kaine during a debate Tuesday night. The event in Farmville, Virginia, is the only vice presidential debate of the current presidential campaign and saw Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate, share the stage with Pence for 90 minutes.
Kaine came off as the more aggressive of the two candidates, repeatedly interrupting Pence and challenging him to defend some of Trump's more controversial statements.
"He loves dictators," Kaine said of Trump's penchant for comments that seem to cast certain world leaders in a positive light. "He's got like a personal Mount Rushmore: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Moammar Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein."
Pence retorted by saying the strength of a strongman like Vladimir Putin can be traced back to the "weak and feckless foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama" which had "awaked an aggression in Russia" a few years ago.
While the two men traded barbs back and forth about their respective candidate's record, observers noted that Pence did not defend some of Trump's more controversial remarks about women and minorities.
"[Pence] is asking everybody to vote for someone he cannot defend," Kaine said.
Both men are experienced politicians. Kaine is currently a US Senator representing Virginia, a state he once led as governor. Pence is the current governor of Indiana.
Although Pence appeared to be on the defensive throughout much of the debate, he did not spare Kaine and Clinton some attacks of his own, targeting her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
"There's a reason that people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton and that's because they've been paying attention," Pence said.
With the figures of Trump and Clinton looming large in the campaign, neither Pence nor Kaine enjoy much recognition among Americans, and their debate is believed to have drawn a much smaller number of people than last week's first presidential debate.
The next debate between Trump and Clinton is scheduled for Sunday.
mz/kl (AP, dpa)