FARMVILLE, Va. (WATE) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine faced off Tuesday night in the only vice presidential campaign of the year. The two sought to challenge each other over their running mates’ positions on the issues, leading to several noteworthy moments during the 90 minute debate.
Records obtained by The New York Times showed Donald Trump suffered more than $900 million in losses in 1995 that could have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years. When asked about those reports, Pence said his running mate followed the tax laws as he should have.
“Donald Trump is a businessman, not a career politician,” said Pence. “His tax returns showed he went through a very difficult time, but he used the tax code just the way it was supposed to be used and he did it brilliantly.”
Kaine, who appeared to be on the attack throughout the debate, challenged Pence on Trump’s decision not to release his tax returns.
The topic eventually shifted to immigration, during which Pence said Trump would “end illegal immigration once and for all.” Before Kaine spoke on Hillary Clinton’s stance on immigration, the candidates took a moment to argue about which candidate had insulted more people and had an “insult-driven campaign.”
Kaine had earlier brought up Trump’s criticism of a Latino judge, calling Mexicans “rapists and criminals,” and Trump’s previous support of the “birther” movement, questioning whether President Obama had been born in the United States.
“If Donald Trump had said all the things you said he said, in exactly the way you said he said them, he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a ‘basket of deplorables,'” said Pence.
Moderator Elaine Quijano admonished both candidates, saying the audience at home could not understand either of them when they were talking over each other.
Kaine eventually made it back to Clinton’s immigration plans, which he said would focus on border control and a path to citizenship.
Another heated exchange came during the topic of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Governor Pence made the odd claim, he said inarguably that Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama,” said Kaine. “If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you got to go back to a fifth grade civics class.”
Pence denied the claim, saying he had been stronger on the world stage. In actuality, during a CNN interview in September, Pence said, “I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.”
Both candidates were asked to speak about challenged they’d faced in balancing their faith and public service. Kaine spoke on his struggles being Catholic and against the death penalty while being governor of a state where the death penalty was legal.
Pence spoke about his opposition to abortion, which led to a debate on the issue.
“For me, I would tell you for the sanctity of life proceeds out of that ancient principle of god. I tried to stand for the ancient principle of the sanctity of life. I am also very pleased that Indiana became the most -adoption state. But what I can understand is Hillary Clinton, how she can support a process like partial-birth abortion. I know you hold pro-life views personal. At the very idea that a child almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them, I cannot conscience a party that supports that,” said Pence.
“Hillary and I are both from religious backgrounds. Her Methodist church experience was very informative for her as a public servant. But we both feel you should live fully and with enthusiasm your faith. But, let’s talk about abortion and choice. We support Roe vs Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience and make their own decision about pregnancy,” said Kaine. “Governor pence wants to repeal Roe vs. Wade. He says he wants to put it on the ash heap of history. Before Roe vs. Wade, states could punish women if they made the choice to abort a pregnancy. I think you should live your moral values, but the last thing governments should do is to have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.