Perhaps one of the most personal, intense policy arguments of Tuesday’s vice presidential debate was on the issue of abortion. This, despite the fact that Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are both against the practice.
What separates them is whether their personal views should dictate public policy. Kaine offered a lengthy explanation of why he feels it should not, starting initially on the subject of the death penalty, which he opposes but carried out as Virginia governor.
Kaine personally opposes abortion. However, he’s supported keeping the procedure legal and has earned a perfect voting record from Planned Parenthood.
Hillary Clinton’s support for abortion comes without qualifiers, and she’s also pushed for ending the Hyde Amendment, a ban on federal funding for abortions. Kaine has defended the amendment in the past, although a campaign spokeswoman said he is “fully committed to Hillary Clinton’s policy agenda.”
Pence questioned how people of faith like Kaine could support late-term abortions, which he called “anathema” to him.
Kaine said both he and Clinton are “people out of religious backgrounds,” discussing his running mate’s upbringing in the Methodist Church.
“We really feel like you should live fully and with enthusiasm in the commands of your faith, but it is not the role of the public servant to mandate that for everybody else,” he said.
Kaine said the Democratic ticket supports Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal, and cited Pence’s previous pledge to repeal it.
He then pivoted to attack Donald Trump for having said in an MSNBC town hall that he would support punishing women who have abortions.
“Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy,” Pence said.
Kaine quickly interjected to ask why Trump had said that.
“He’s not a polished politician,” Pence answered.
Kaine argued that Pence should not simply dismiss Trump’s previous controversial statements on a range of issues as simply a lack of polish. He raised Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants -- calling them rapists and criminals -- as an example.
“Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again,” Pence responded.
“Can you defend it?” Kaine answered back.