VP hopefuls go toe-to-toe in attacks, but who told the truth?
The vice-presidential debates may not command the attention of an audience the way that presidential debates do, but that didn’t stop the Democratic nominee Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Republican nominee Indiana Governor Mike Pence from mudslinging like their lives depended on it. While the Wednesday debate in Virginia covered many different topics, three involved curious omissions of truth in particular: social security, the Iran deal and immigration.
Kaine’s view of a Trump presidency involves Children of Men-like mass deportations and said Trump and Pence, “want to go house to house, school to school, business to business and kick out 16 million people.”
Meanwhile, Pence presented a borderless and lawless nation under a Hillary Clinton presidency.
Whose caricature of the other’s campaign was the closest to the truth? Donald Trump has repeatedly made promises to expel illegal immigrants with a priority on criminals. But what exactly defines a criminal or how to find undocumented criminal has been vague at best.
In August, Trump said at a rally, “Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation.” In addition, Pence said “Donald Trump said we are going to move those people out. People have overstayed their visas.”
But when it comes to the “deportation nation” Kaine claimed Pence was promoting, his rhyme wasn’t far away from Trump’s repeated calls for deportation. While Pence said, “We have a deportation force. It is called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement,” last November Trump said “You’re going to have a deportation force. And [you’re] going to do it humanely.”
Although Kaine may have been misleading, his claims were not completely off-kilter – unlike Pence’s claims that the Clinton campaign is planning to open the borders.
“They have a plan for open borders, amnesty,” Pence said. What Clinton has actually supported includes enforcing immigration laws by deporting criminals and threats to public safety along with immigration reform that would give current undocumented residents a path to becoming citizens legally by paying back taxes and undergoing background checks.
Either way, Pence managed to get a few dig good digs in about when Kaine goes back to the Senate. Kaine’s needling reminders of when Trump said Mexican immigrants were “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Pence became so flummoxed as to say, “You keep bringing up that Mexican thing.” It may seem like a poor choice of words, but there’s five more weeks until voters go to the polls to express their thoughts in the most meaningful way.
The Iran Deal was either the greatest diplomatic achievement of the 21st century or a Faustian deal with the devil, based on what the vice presidential candidates said during Wednesday’s debate. However, the truth behind the deal was more complicated.
Kaine claimed that Clinton “worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.” First things first, Clinton ended her tenure as Secretary of State in 2013 and the deal was actually brokered by John Kerry.
Second, it did not eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons program as much as it just limited it. Instead, Iran agreed to give international inspectors access to their facilities, limited its supply of low-enriched uranium and removed a reserve of medium-enriched uranium.
Where does that leave Pence’s claim that the deal, “guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power”? Only the future can fact check it.
There’s less than 20 years left until social security dries up and since that is equivalent to nearly five more presidential campaigns, both vice presidential candidates wanted to present their candidates as the person to fix the issue once and for all.
Both of them stuck to their lines, such as Kaine assuring voters that Clinton would “keep it solvent, we will look for strategies like adjusting the payroll tax cap upward.” But then Kaine kept talking.
“Donald Trump wrote a book and he said Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and privatization would be good for all of us,” Kaine said in reference to Donald Trump’s 2000 book The America We Deserve. He didn’t stop there; he also attacked Pence, saying that as a Congressman Pence “was the chief cheerleader for the privatization of Social Security.”
Pence replied, “All Donald Trump and I have said is we are going to cut taxes to meet obligations of social security and Medicare.”
In this example, Kaine’s answer did not line up with the 2016 party platform that Trump and Pence are running on. While yes, it is true that 16 years ago Trump wrote that privatization would be the prudent choice, his current platform involves no changes to social security. "The key to preserving Social Security and other programs ... is to have an economy that is robust and growing," is the official summary of Trump’s position on the matter.
In regards to Pence being a cheerleader for privatization, his past stances on social security has been conservative but nothing pom-pom worthy. In 2010, he said “I think it’s imperative – absolutely imperative – whether its Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid… with regard to entitlements, we’re going to have to take some deep cuts in domestic spending” in an appearance on CNN.
In 2005 while serving as the Republican Study Committee Chairman, he supported a move to privatize social security. A letter from him and then Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Shadegg (R-AZ) was sent to President Bush reading “We urge you to continue to pursue personal carve-out accounts as the long run solution for Social Security’s actuarial shortcomings.”
Kaine’s statements, while truthful in history, do not apply to the campaign platform both Trump and Pence are running on.