Why Tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate is Unusual

Morning Must Reads: October 4

f you only read one thing: If there’s a debate and no one knows who the candidates are did it really happen? We’ll find out tonight as the Democratic and Republican running-mates face off in Farmville, Virginia. This will be no “thrill-in-the-ville.” Instead, two relatively unknown and largely irrelevant candidates will fight a proxy war for their wanna-be bosses. In a year where so much attention has been paid to the top of the ticket—the inaugural presidential debate last week set a viewership record—this is shaping up to be something of a snooze. Yes, there will be canned lines and perhaps even a serious discussion of policy, but barring a Palin-esque moment, tonight’s matchup will essentially be a pro forma ritual with no impact on the larger race. Almost no voters are ever swayed by the bottom of the ticket, and that’s especially true with two well-defined, and disliked, candidates on top.

What will be notable about the debate is how the two running-mates differ from the presidential nominees. On one side there is the figurative janitor, struggling to erase the stain of his candidate’s many missteps and insults. On the other is the affable everyman, who projects a far more relatable image than his candidate. In both cases, they have significant policy disagreements with the top of the ticket—so much so that a debate within the two tickets would likely be more thrilling than tonight’s bout.

We’ll have complete coverage of tonight’s debate on TIME.com this evening.

Donald Trump’s own email records come under scrutiny. A GOP Senator’s Trump agony. The Trump Foundation is forced to stop raising money. And Democrats plan to hold Trump over the GOP for cycles to come.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

The Vice Presidential Debate Will Showcase the Overlooked
TIME’s Philip Elliott previews the debate

Dems Build Files to Track Trump ‘Stain’
The party aims to hang this GOP nominee around Republican necks for years [Politico]

Hillary Clinton Goes After Donald Trump’s Taxes in Ohio Campaign Stop
Trying to undercut populist appeal [TIME]

Donald Trump’s ‘Fiduciary Duty’ Excuse on Taxes Is Just Plain Wrong
The Donald and his surrogates say he has a legal responsibility to minimize tax payments for his shareholders. It’s not a good excuse, TIME’s Rana Foroohar explains

Apprentice Cast Alleges Donald Trump Repeatedly Demeaned Female Contestants
Speaking out as Trump has come under renewed scrutiny over talk toward women [Associated Press]

How Hillary Clinton Grappled With Bill Clinton’s Infidelity, and His Accusers
Standing by her husband [New York Times]

Trump Was Accused of Destroying Email Evidence in Lawsuit 10 Years Ago
What goes around… [USA Today]

Sound Off

“As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit.” — Donald Trump defending his tax payments.

“So look, these guys talk about we’re the one – they’re the ones about economic growth. Everything they proposed for the last 15 years has been regressive on growth. We have not grown. It’s like we have self-induced amnesia.” — Joe Biden on the GOP while campaigning for Hillary Clinton

Bits and Bites

Federal Court Blocks Effort by Mike Pence to Keep Syrian Refugees Out of Indiana [TIME]

Ron Paul Says He Won’t Be Voting For Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson [TIME]

Donald Trump Defends Leaked Tax Returns: ‘I Have Legally Used the Tax Laws To My Benefit’ [TIME]

He Once Pursued the Clintons as a Prosecutor. Now He’s Backing Hillary for President [TIME]

Donald Trump’s Foundation Was Just Ordered to Stop Raising Money [TIME]

President Obama Draws Line from Sarah Palin to Donald Trump [TIME]

Inside Clinton’s struggle to win over college students in Ohio [Washington Post]

Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family file federal lawsuit against Iranian government [Washington Post]

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