Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine came to Tuesday’s vice presidential debate armed with an arsenal of prepared zingers.
Hillary Clinton’s running mate levied a series of canned pithy attack lines against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on everything from jobs to Trump’s Twitter wars to Vladimir Putin.
It’s a well-worn strategy for these kinds of debates, though none of the lines landed with the kind of punch that past debate zingers have. Pence, by contrast, had fewer prepared lines.
Here are seven of Kaine’s attempts:
- Kaine told Pence that he “is Trump’s apprentice.” Then, in another reference to the Republican nominee’s reality television show, he said “Do you want a ‘you’re hired’ president in Hillary Clinton, or a ‘you’re fired’ president in Donald Trump?”
- On Trump’s tax returns: “He stood on the stage last week and when Hillary said, you haven’t been paying taxes, he said, ‘That makes me smart.’ So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to pay for veterans? It’s smart not to pay for teachers? And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess, were stupid.”
- On things Trump has said about women and immigrants: “I can’t imagine how Governor Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, me-first style of Donald Trump.”
- On the Alicia Machado controversy: “Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot.”
- On Trump’s seeming praise of Vladimir Putin: “He’s got kind of a personal Mount Rushmore [of dictators]”
- Also on Trump and Putin: “If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you gotta go back to a fifth-grade civics class.”
- On Trump’s business: “The Trump Organization is an octopus-like organization with tentacles all over the world.”
Kaine used so many rehearsed lines that he seemed even to be keeping track, at one point acknowledging he’d already used a line six times before saying it again. Pence also called him on the strategy: “Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of really creative lines in it,” he said after Kaine’s Mount Rushmore critique.
Some other Republicans who weren’t onstage jumped to that same line of attack against Kaine, criticizing him for sounding too “canned”: