Vice presidential debate updates: The winner? Our analysts say Pence came out ahead

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With no lack of interruptions, rivals Tim Kaine and Mike Pence defend their respective top-of-the-ticket partners in the election’s only vice presidential debate.

Transcript: The key exchanges between Pence and Kaine

There was no shortage of interruptions and insults during the first and only vice presidential debate of 2016.

Here are some of the major exchanges between vice presidential nominees Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

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‘That Mexican thing’ certainly didn’t go unnoticed during the debate

A conversation on abortion took a turn when Tim Kaine questioned Donald Trump’s ability to lead by criticizing his past statements on Mexican immigrants.

“Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again,” Pence responded. (Here’s the full transcript of their exchange.)

“That Mexican thing” immediately struck a chord with debate-watchers. Already, redirects back to Hillary Clinton campaign’s official website.

And on Twitter, it didn’t take long for people to chime in.

This isn’t the first time Trump’s campaign or someone associated with it has made a comment on Mexican immigrants that has turned into a bit a gaffe. Last month, “taco trucks on every corner” turned into an Internet meme after Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez said it in an anti-immigration interview.

Today happens to be National Taco Day.

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Kaine highlights Clinton’s plan to defeat Islamic State, but leaves out his quest for new congressional authority

When asked to discuss the threat of terrorism Tuesday, Sen. Tim Kaine took the opportunity to outline Hillary Clinton’s plan to defeat Islamic State: Take out the network’s leadership, disrupt its financing and recruiting and work with allies “to share and surge intelligence.”

“She’s got the experience to do it,” he said, before pivoting to attack Donald Trump for his “secret” plans.

It might be one of the best examples Tuesday of how Kaine’s own priorities have become secondary to Clinton’s. Left unmentioned was perhaps a signature cause during Kaine’s nearly four years in the Senate: his insistence that further military action against the Islamic State extremist group requires congressional approval.

The Obama administration has maintained that deployments targeting the terrorist network are covered by previous congressional mandates, primarily the one passed in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks that granted broad authority for military action against “nations, organizations or persons” responsible.

Still, the president has indicated openness and offered a proposed draft of a new bill that would define the parameters of U.S. military deployments to target the terrorist network. It would have ruled out “enduring offensive ground combat operations” — a term that was never fully defined, and offered no geographic limitations.

Kaine and others called the proposal too vague, and said that members of Congress needed to do more to assert their own prerogative to declare war, as presidents from both parties have reached beyond what he says were their constitutional limits.

Kaine had worked with Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and others on their own proposal in 2014; he introduced similar proposals this year with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona that would give the president a narrow mandate for military action to protect U.S. citizens and provide military support to regional partners against Islamic State, while prohibiting a significant deployment of ground troops. Separately, Kaine has called for legislation to either revise or repeal that 2001 authorization.

In a national security speech in North Carolina last month, Kaine said that Hillary Clinton agreed with his mission.

“Hillary and I both believe that Congress should finally do its job and take a vote on whether the American military should be using force for now over two years against [the Islamic State],” he said.

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Tim Kaine, who is opposed to the death penalty, explains why he allowed executions as governor

Tim Kaine explains his personal opposition to the death penalty.

Tim Kaine opposes the death penalty, describing his stance as a “moral position.” He also represented death-row inmates as a defense lawyer, something his Republican opponent tried to use against him when Kaine ran for governor in Virginia.

“But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye and said, ‘Look, this is my religion. I’m not going to change my religious practice to get one vote. But I know how to take an oath and uphold the law. And if you elect me I will uphold the law,’” Kaine recalled Tuesday night as he discussed how his faith informed his public service.

After he was elected, Kaine still allowed death sentences to be carried out because it was state law. Eleven inmates were executed during his tenure from 2006 to 2010.

Kaine differs on the issue from Hillary Clinton, who supports the death penalty. She has said execution is justified for “particularly heinous crimes” as long as prosecutors meet “the highest standards of evidentiary proof.”

For his part, Kaine said it was “very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward” as governor.

“But in circumstances where I didn’t feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law and I did,” he said. “I think it is really, really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don’t feel like we can just substitute our own views for everyone else in society.”

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VP debate scorecard: Our judges unanimously give the debate to Pence, but the decision was close

Our judges say Mike Pence won on style and Tim Kaine on substance, and that Pence’s strong showing could help moderate Republicans back to the ticket.

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Pence, Kaine engage in deeply personal debate on abortion

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence clash over questions about abortion.

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.

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Mike Pence overstated Hillary Clinton’s meetings with foundation donors

Mike Pence misrepresents Hillary Clinton’s meetings with foundation donors at the vice presidential debate.

Mike Pence exaggerated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s meetings with donors to her family foundation when she was secretary of State, saying in Tuesday’s vice presidential debate that they were far more extensive than they actually were.

Pence repeated a statement from a retracted Associated Press tweet — that more than half of those who met with Clinton when she was the nation’s top diplomat had given money to the Clinton Foundation. The AP deleted the tweet because it was incorrect.

The tweet linked to an AP story that found 85 of the 154 people in the private sector listed on Clinton’s State Department calendars as meeting with her were linked to donations to her family charity.

But the story did not count any of the U.S. or foreign government officials with whom Clinton met.

Two weeks after the tweet was posted, the AP deleted it after concluding that it fell short of AP standards by omitting essential context.

The incident led the AP to revise its practices to require removal and correction of any AP tweets that fall short of the news organization’s standards, including tweets that contain information that is incorrect, misleading or unfair.

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VP debate scorecard: Pence and Kaine tie in the last third of the debate

After a third round that focused on faith and foreign policy, both candidates delivered solid performances but neither came out on top.

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Donald Trump has repeatedly said he is OK with more countries having nukes

Tim Kaine hits Mike Pence on Trump’s comments about nuclear weapons at the vice presidential debate.

In a feverish exchange about falsehoods, GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence claimed that Democratic rival Tim Kaine was misstating Donald Trump’s position on nuclear proliferation.

Kaine said that Trump has said that more nations should have nuclear weapons.

“He never said that,” Pence said.

“He absolutely said that,” Kaine replied.

Trump has repeatedly said he was amenable to more nations having nuclear weapons, and that it was inevitable.

“If Japan had that nuclear threat, I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us,” he told the New York Times in March, arguing that it would be a good counter force to North Korea.

He expanded on his views on CNN the same month.

“Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen anyway. It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time. They’re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia, you have so many countries right now that have them,” he said. “Now, wouldn’t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?”

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Pence talks tough on Russia and backs away from praise for Putin — but did he call him a ‘better’ leader than Obama?

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Mike Pence took a hard line when it came to Russia, a somewhat surprising turn given what has been the Putin-friendly posture of his running mate.

“The provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength,” Pence said during a discussion of the conflict in Syria during Tuesday’s vice presidential debate.

He later suggested that the United States should deploy a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, one that he noted President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opted against early in the president’s term (the U.S. and NATO have since moved to bolster its presence in Eastern Europe).

“We’ve just got to have American strength on the world stage, and when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they’re dealing with a strong American president.”

Kaine said Clinton would stand up to Russia in a way that Trump would not, noting the Republican nominee has repeatedly praised President Vladimir Putin and raising “shadowy connections with pro-Putin forces.”

Kaine then attacked Pence directly for “the odd claim” that Putin was a “better” leader than Obama.

“Vladimir Putin’s run his economy into the ground, he persecutes LGBT folks and journalists. If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you have got to go back to a fifth-grade civics class,” Kaine said.

“That is absolutely inaccurate,” Pence later claimed of his previous comments comparing Obama and Putin.

As Kaine said, you can go to the tape. Speaking on CNN from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Pence backed up his running mate’s comments about the Russian leader.

“I think it’s inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country,” Pence said then.

Pence’s point Tuesday seemed to be that there is a distinction between calling Putin a “better” leader than a “stronger” leader.

“He’s been stronger on the world stage,” Pence said again Tuesday.

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Why Pence’s and Trump’s assertion that Hillary Clinton supports a 550% increase in Syrian refugees is misleading

Mike Pence and Tim Kaine debate how to address the Syrian refugee crisis.

Mike Pence, asked about how he would deal with home-grown terrorists during the vice presidential debate, quickly turned to a frequent talking point of his running mate: Donald Trump often says that Hillary Clinton supports a radical 550% increase in Syrian refugees.

Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine pushed back by noting that on Monday, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s order blocking a Pence effort to try to stop Syrian refugees from being resettled in his home state of Indiana.

While the figure Pence cited is accurate, the assertion is misleading, given the scale of the crisis of Syrians fleeing the country’s bloody civil war that has raged since 2011.

In a September 2015 CBS News interview, Clinton said she believes the U.S. should take in 65,000 Syrian refugees, which would be a 550% increase from the Obama administration’s goal of resettling 10,000 refugees this fiscal year.

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At the vice presidential debate, they agree on community policing but definitely not ‘stop and frisk’

(David Goldman / Associated Press)

Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, often tout themselves as the “law and order” campaign.

And the recent high-profile police shootings of black men have created a stark contrast this election cycle on a polarizing issue: stop and frisk.

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine have assailed the policing tactic as racial profiling, and on Tuesday night Kaine sought to bring the issue back to the forefront.

“Donald Trump recently said we need to do more stop-and-frisk around the country,” Kaine said during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University. “That would be a big mistake.... It polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.”

Pence, who noted during the debate his uncle was a longtime Chicago police officer, did not agree.

“You just heard Sen. Kaine reject stop-and-frisk. I would suggest to you the families that live in our inner cities that are besieged by crime” would not agree, Pence said.

The policy, once used by many police departments, gained traction in New York under two former mayors, Rudolph W. Giuliani, now a top Trump surrogate, and Michael R. Bloomberg, now a fierce Trump critic.

The tactic drew dozens of lawsuits by people who argued that they were unfairly targeted by police on racial grounds as they walked the city’s streets.

In 2013, a federal judge ruled that New York’s stop-and-frisk policy had violated the rights of minorities.

While discussing criminal justice, the two did find common ground, as both agreed that better relationships between minority communities and police must be forged.

“At the risk of agreeing with you,” said Pence, nodding at Kaine, “community policing is a great idea.”

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Mike Pence: ‘Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.’

Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.

— Gov. Mike Pence

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VP debate scorecard: Kaine makes a comeback after a rocky start in the first round, but second round is a draw

Our panel says that Kaine improved his performance from the first round, but neither man shone during the second third of the debate.

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As interruptions define this debate, a signature line from the moderator

Elanie Quijano tries to calm Tim Kaine and Mike Pence down during the vice presidental debate.

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Pence says it’s nonsense that Trump wants to deport millions. It’s not.

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence present two opposing visions on immigration policy. 

When Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said during Tuesday night’s debate that it was “nonsense” that Donald Trump was going to deport millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally, he was incorrect.

During a Republican primary debate in November 2015, Trump praised President Dwight Eisenhower’s mass deportation program.

“You are going to have a deportation force, and you are going to do it humanely,” Trump said the next day on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked how he would round up the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

In the general election, Trump has modulated his rhetoric on illegal immigration, emphasizing that his top priority is to expel criminals.

But in an August immigration speech in Phoenix, Trump made clear he was sticking to his hard line on deportations.

“Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” he said. “That is what it means to have laws and to have a country. Otherwise we don’t have a country.”

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Hillary Clinton has some thoughts on the vice presidential debate thus far

Donald Trump isn’t the only one tweeting during the debate — Hillary Clinton also has some thoughts.

At one point, she criticized Pence for skirting a question about whether bias affects policing.

Clinton also doesn’t think highly of Trump’s own tweeting.

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What does attack-dog mode look like for Mike Pence and Tim Kaine? Lots of interruptions

Both vice presidential nominees may be best known for their affable, albeit bland, demeanors. But the two running mates arrived in Virginia ready to (mildly) brawl in their only debate.

The first third of the showdown between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence was most notable for cross-talk and interruptions in nearly every exchange.

Kaine jumped in when Pence took aim at the Clinton Foundation. Pence cut in to defend Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Observers pointedly noted the number of times Trump interrupted Clinton in the first debate, where the over-talking had a more fraught gender dynamic. On Tuesday night, free of that dynamic, the two men interrupted each other with gusto.

The cross-talk exasperated the debate moderator, CBS News’ Elaine Quijano.

“Gentlemen, the people at home cannot understand you when you speak over each other,” she reminded them.

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Tim Kaine has pushed for more gun restrictions over time

Tim Kaine explains his stance on gun control. 

Asked about criminal justice reforms, Sen. Tim Kaine touted improved crime statistics when he was a mayor and governor and then praised Hillary Clinton’s “comprehensive” plans for the nation, which includes one to “fight the scourge of gun violence in the United States.”

“I’m a gun owner. I’m a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, but I got a lot of scar tissue,” he said.

Kaine’s positions on gun control have become more stringent over time, reflecting his years in elected office in his home state of Virginia.

When Kaine ran for governor, he promised not to push for new restrictions on guns. But after the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 — during his term — he worked with Republican lawmakers to bolster the state’s system for background checks, an effort the Obama administration pointed to as a model for national action.

As a U.S. senator, Kaine has backed restrictions on gun magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

His support for tougher gun control meshes with Clinton’s platform. She’s consistently pushed for more extensive background checks and a ban on firearm purchases by people on the “no-fly” list because of suspected terrorist activity.

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Of course he’s tweeting: Here’s what Donald Trump has said so far

Donald Trump promised to live-tweet the vice presidential debate from his hotel in Las Vegas, and he’s been tweeting away so far.

Trump has run into trouble with his tweeting, so his campaign pointed out that he wouldn’t be alone with his smartphone.

Besides tweeting his own comments, Trump has been sharing thoughts from his fans.

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Pence just accused Kaine and Clinton of being career politicians. So is he.

(Andrew Jansen / Associated Press)

While defending Donald Trump’s apparent lack of paying taxes, GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence argued Tuesday to Tim Kaine that the Democratic vice presidential candidate and his running mate, Hillary Clinton, were “career public servants.”

Trump “actually built a business,” Pence said during the vice presidential debate.

Both members of the Democratic ticket are long-term politicians, but so is Pence. He has spent the past 15 years as a member of Congress and Indiana governor, public service his campaign proudly pointed to when he released his financial disclosures and tax returns he earlier this year.

“The Pence family has been honored to serve their state and their nation for the past 16 years, while raising three great children and putting them through college,” Marc Lotter, a Pence spokesman, said in statement when Pence and his wife, Karen, released a decade’s worth of tax returns.

The Pence family reported an adjusted gross income of $113,026 on the low end and $187,495 on the high end, with an effective state and federal tax rate that ranged from 10.4% to 16.5%. The bulk of the income, covering 2006 to 2015, came from Pence’s salaries as a congressman and governor.

The financial disclosures found nearly all of their assets come from Pence’s government work. They reported a state pension worth between $500,001 and $1 million, and two other state retirement accounts worth up to $30,000. The couple also has a bank account worth up to $15,000 and two college savings accounts worth up to $30,000 combined.

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VP debate scorecard: After a feistier than expected start, our judges give first round to Pence

Our judges praised Mike Pence’s calm demeanor, a sharp contrast to his running mate’s performance last week.

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When comparing job-creation records, timing matters for Pence and Kaine

Tim Kaine and Mike Pence spar over their economic records in Virginia and Indiana

The vice presidential candidates are spending much of their time advocating for their running mates. But as the debate turned to the economy, Gov. Mike Pence sought to contrast his record in one term leading Indiana to Tim Kaine’s tenure as Virginia governor.

I’m “proud of fact I come from a state that works,” Pence said, while arguing that Kaine left Virginia’s budget “in the hole.”

Virginia’s unemployment rate was more than double when Kaine left office in 2010 (10.8%) than it was when he was sworn in in 2006 (5.1%).

Indiana’s unemployment rate is now 4.5%, compared with 8.4% when Pence took office.

Governors can do a lot to boost their states’ economies, but national trends play a significant role here. Kaine has often referred to himself as “a hard-times governor,” noting that he had to make difficult decisions as the Great Recession unfolded nationally.

Pence took office just as the economic recovery was underway, and benefited somewhat from the decisions his predecessor, Republican Mitch Daniels, made.

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Tim Kaine on trusting Hillary Clinton

We trust Hillary Clinton.... The thought of Donald Trump as commander in chief scares us to death.

— Tim Kaine

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Catch up on the vice presidential nominees with our tale of the tape

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Why are we even doing this?

Pundits have tried to stoke enthusiasm for Tuesday night’s vice presidential candidates’ debate, noting that Pence and Kaine are likely to have a more substantive back-and-forth about the major issues facing this country. Civil, competent and unburdened by the weight of charisma, these two men are expected to lay out the clear differences in governing philosophy between the Republican and Democratic tickets.

But, come on, does anybody really care?

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Where is Farmville? This Virginia debate town with a dark past is looking for a bright spot on the national stage

The tiny town of Farmville does not even amount to a spit on the map of Virginia, perhaps a fitting backdrop for a vice presidential debate that is being drowned out by the clanging of the presidential nominees.

But in addition to charming brick warehouses, furniture stores, wooded views of the river and two small private colleges, the town is rich in history.

The Civil War ended here and the era of segregation lingered in Prince Edward County longer than almost any other place in the United States.

The county, which had been a party in Brown vs. Board of Education, decided to close its public school system rather than integrate it when the Supreme Court struck down segregation in 1959. Unlike other integration holdouts, which quickly reopened their schools, the Prince Edward County schools remained closed for five years. Many black children were forced to move or denied an education altogether.

White children were sent to a state-supported private school.

“Prince Edward Academy became the prototype for all-white private schools formed to protest school integration,” according to the Virginia Historical Society.

Even after the public schools reopened, when the Supreme Court struck down state grants given to private schools, de facto segregation lingered for decades.

But the county also has changed. An editorial in Monday’s Roanoke Times argues that Farmville and the surrounding county “tells a story about the nation.”

The piece points out that among many changes here, voters last year elected Megan Clark as the county attorney, the first woman and African American to hold the post. Clark’s parents were denied a public education here for five years, with her mother forced to attend school in a neighboring county.

“Keep breaking down walls and keep building bridges,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in an interview Tuesday, when asked about the significance of holding the debate in Farmville. “These are signs of progress and signs of hope.”

People in the town of 8,000 residents seem genuinely excited to reemerge on the national stage. There was celebration over the weekend to mark the repainting of an old Coca-Cola mural, and many friendly smiles from people who work in the stores along Main Street.

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Watch it again: Tim Kaine and Mike Pence’s vice presidential debate

Here’s the full vice presidential debate.

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The third person onstage with Pence and Kaine? CBS’ Elaine Quijano

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Last week it was Lester Holt in the moderator spotlight, and now it’s Elaine Quijano.

The CBS News reporter will moderate tonight’s vice presidential debate between Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Quijano, 42, is an anchor for the Sunday edition of “CBS Weekend News.” But the bulk of Quijano’s work is on CBS’ Internet-streamed 24-hour news channel, where she leads its political coverage. She’s a former CNN correspondent who joined CBS News in 2010.

The Chicago-area native will be the first Asian American to moderate a general election debate.

Quijano will oversee nine 10-minute segments between Kaine and Pence.

“Elaine connects today’s digital audiences with this historic 2016 campaign,” CBS News President David Rhodes said in a statement last month when it was announced Quijano would moderate the debate.

“Her perspective, dedication to political reporting, and important role on CBS News’ live-streaming platform make her an ideal choice to lead the only vice presidential debate this fall.”

The moderators have been the subject of much scrutiny amid the uproar over fact-checking during this campaign, and Holt largely received positive reviews, allowing Trump and Clinton to debate, yet at times interrupting to ask follow-up questions and to point out falsehoods.

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How Tim Kaine could fit into another Clinton White House

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

As vice president, Tim Kaine would face a challenge no one in the office has: working alongside not one but two presidents.

Hillary and Bill Clinton would, of course, be the first wife and husband to both serve as president. Given Bill Clinton’s eagerness to be at the center of the action and deep passion for politics, that could make Kaine the odd man out.

“We’ve never had this before, with a former president being in the White House, and Hillary has indicated that he will have an active role,” said Charles Burson, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore.

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In a Trump White House, Pence could play a big role

(Mandel Ngan / AFP-Getty Images)

Mike Pence takes the debate stage as the occasionally forgotten No. 2 to the indisputable chief attention-getter of the presidential campaign, Donald Trump. But he could assume a big role in a Trump administration.

Pence, Indiana’s governor and a former congressman, has the policy experience that Trump lacks. He also has close ties to religious conservatives, a group that is somewhat warily supportive of Trump.

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Trump says Bill Clinton was right to complain about Obamacare

Donald Trump on Tuesday seized upon President Bill Clinton’s criticism of some of the fallout from President Obama’s signature healthcare law as “the craziest thing in the world.”

Trump said Clinton was simply being honest when he said a day earlier that people who barely miss out on qualifying for healthcare subsidies are seeing their insurance premiums double and coverage slashed.

“He absolutely trashed President Obama’s signature legislation,” Trump told thousands of supporters in Prescott Valley, a desert town 90 minutes north of Phoenix. “I’ll bet he went through hell last night. Can you imagine? Can you imagine? Can you imagine what he went through after making that statement? He went through hell.

“Honestly, there have been many nights when he has gone through hell with Hillary Clinton,” Trump added, continuing his recent line of attacks on the Clintons’ marriage. “I want to thank him honestly for being honest.”

Trump said that Bill Clinton was also reiterating what he has said throughout his campaign. Trump repeated his pledge that he would, on his first day as president, ask Congress to send him a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

In his remarks Monday, Clinton said that the system worked fine for the elderly and the poor, but he said it created problems for people who barely miss out on qualifying for a subsidy.

“The people that are getting killed in this deal is small-business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies,” Clinton said while campaigning for his wife in Michigan.

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have healthcare, and then the people who are out there busting it sometimes 60 hours a week wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half,” Clinton said. “It’s the craziest thing in the world.”

The law has fallen short of some goals in part because of efforts by Republican elected officials in many states to block expansion of Medicaid and erect other barriers to insurance enrollment.

Clinton emphasized a day later that the legislation did a “world of good.”

“We for the first time in our history at least are providing insurance to more than 90% of our people,” he said at a rally in Ohio.

Hillary Clinton tried to strike a middle path: She praised the Affordable Care Act for its health insurance exchanges and coverage for preexisting conditions. But she acknowledged that it needed improvements, such as mechanisms to keep costs down. She did not disagree with her husband’s remarks.

“I’ve been saying, we’ve got to fix what’s broken and keep what works,” Clinton told reporters in Harrisburg. “We’re going to tackle it. We’re going to fix it. It won’t be easy. But it’s a heck of a lot better than starting for scratch.”

Mehta reported from Prescott Valley and Megerian from Harrisburg.

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90 minutes ahead of the debate, GOP’s site declares Mike Pence the winner

What, no spoiler alert?

About 90 minutes before the vice presidential debate was scheduled to begin, the GOP published a post on its website declaring the Republican candidate the “clear winner.” The post appears to have since been removed, but here’s what was up there:

“Americans from all across the country tuned in to watch the one and only Vice Presidential debate,” the post read. “The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate.”

The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate.

— A post published on before the debate happened

The post touted Pence’s highlights from the debate that has not yet happened, including talking about the economy and “highlighting Hillary’s scandals.”

Guess we know what we can look forward to tonight.

By the way, if you go to the link now, it looks like this:

If only 10-year-old Barron Trump had been there to help them out with “the cyber.”

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Watch: Your primer on the vice presidential nominees

Mike Pence and Tim Kaine face off on the debate stage for the first time Tuesday tonight. Here’s what to expect.

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Michelle Obama lacerates Donald Trump and even mocks his mic complaints

First Lady Michelle Obama portrayed Donald Trump as an unstable and thin-skinned bigot Tuesday as she sought to inspire a strong voter turnout for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.

Obama never mentioned the Republican presidential nominee by name in her remarks at a rally in Charlotte. But she picked apart Trump’s recent missteps, including his middle-of-the-night tweets calling a former Miss Universe a “terrible” and “disgusting” con artist with a sordid sexual history.

Americans, Obama said, need a commander in chief “who is steady and measured, because when making life-or-death, war-or-peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off or lash out irrationally. And I think we can all agree that someone who’s roaming around at 3 a.m. tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes.”

Obama seized on the New York Times disclosure that Trump reported a nearly billion-dollar loss in 1995 that would have enabled him to pay no federal income tax for up to 18 years.

“We need someone who is honest and plays by the rules, because not paying taxes for years and years while the rest of us pay our fair share doesn’t make you smarter than the rest of us,” she said, drawing cheers.

“No, we need a president who will choose to do what’s best for the country, even when it doesn’t personally benefit them.”

North Carolina is a crucial battleground state that Clinton can only win with a strong turnout of black voters. The first lady has been one of her strongest surrogates.

Obama ridiculed Trump’s effort to excuse his poorly received debate performance last week by faulting the low quality of his microphone, which affected the sound level in the auditorium but was unnoticeable to the record 84 million television viewers.

When Clinton “gets knocked down, she doesn’t complain, she doesn’t cry foul,” Obama said, tapping loudly on her microphone. “No, she gets right back up and comes back stronger for the people who need her most.”

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Hillary Clinton tries to undercut Donald Trump’s business record and economic pitch

(Sean Simmers / via AP)

When Hillary Clinton took the stage here Tuesday, there was little talk of the sexism, racism or xenophobia she has accused Donald Trump of spreading.

Instead, much like her speeches the previous day in Ohio, Clinton focused on the economy, Trump’s taxes and accusations that he stiffed contractors in his business dealings.

“Donald Trump is the poster boy for so much of what is wrong with our economy,” she said.

Public polls have showed voters believe that Trump, whose record as a real estate developer has been central to his presidential pitch, would be better at handling the country’s economy. But his lead on that score has shrunk, and Clinton has tried to further close the gap in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Part of Clinton’s message echoed some of the complaints from her primary opponent Bernie Sanders about the “rigged economy,” with criticisms of a “cowboy culture” on Wall Street.

“I’m going to be even tougher on the Wall Street banks,” Clinton said. Her record of accepting donations and paid speaking engagements from financial institutions has been a controversial issue for her campaign.

At every turn, Clinton linked Trump to the economic problems she bemoaned.

“He embodies the risky behavior that crashed our economy, that brought us the Great Recession, the quick-buck culture that still rules too many corporate boardrooms,” she said.

Clinton once again assailed Trump for buying steel from China for some construction projects despite his campaign promises to protect the domestic steel industry.

She promised to protect U.S. steel companies from unfair Chinese competition.

“We’re going to ramp up enforcement. We’re going to throw the book at China and anyone else that does it,” she said.

Clinton also promised to crack down on companies that outsource jobs, saying she would require them to pay an “exit tax” if they move work overseas after accepting tax breaks.

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When he was a congressman, Mike Pence peddled unfounded theories about anthrax and Saddam Hussein

(Darron Cummings / Associated Press))

Tuesday’s debate puts the spotlight on the major parties’ vice presidential nominees, and one odd chapter of Mike Pence’s life has gotten little attention in this election: the unfounded conspiracy theories he peddled about anthrax and Saddam Hussein.

Pence, a congressman at the time, claimed that a foreign government, probably Hussein’s Iraq, was responsible for the attacks via mail that killed five people in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks when the U.S. was already in a heightened state of fear.

The Times’ David Willman explored Pence’s reaction to the anthrax attacks this summer, after the Indiana governor was named to the GOP ticket.

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Old-school tactics give Clinton’s team some exposure ahead of vice presidential debate

Score one for team Clinton.

The campaign is often criticized for getting outflanked by Donald Trump in terms of attention from media. But their old-school tactics — and much larger staff — gave Clinton’s campaign some added exposure ahead of the vice presidential debate Tuesday.

The campaign supplied a steady stream of high-level officials and surrogates for reporters, who have been waiting hours in the debate filing room before the 9 p.m. Eastern kickoff.

There was Robby Mook, the campaign manager, pushing reporters to make sure a low bar isn’t set for Trump in the next debate. Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director, mocked Trump’s tweeting. The Rev. Jesse Jackson roamed the spin room. There was a separate availability with bilingual campaign officials for the large contingent of Spanish-language media.

Team Trump? Not so much. A few officials roamed around from the Virginia Legislature. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions spoke to CNN. GOP chief strategist Sean Spicer did some local television interviews. The Republican National Committee’s Hispanic communications chief, Helen Aguirre Ferre, did some one-on-one interviews.

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Spin room spin: Clinton campaign is bullish on Ohio

As the vice presidential candidates square off in their debate Tuesday night, the Clinton campaign will be paying particularly close attention to how it might play in one battleground state: Ohio.

Democrats have struggled to win over this part of the Rust Belt, particularly in 2016 as they face a rival whose pitch is custom-made for the legions of workers whose jobs have been casualties of globalization. Donald Trump maintained a slight lead in Ohio over Clinton in every poll taken in September.

But the Clinton campaign sees opportunity in the state stemming from Trump’s latest troubles, which include revelations that he may not have paid federal income taxes for nearly two decades and that he opted not to buy massive amounts of steel for construction projects in America. His company purchased the steel in China.

“We have a real opening with these voters,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said in the spin room before Tuesday night’s debate in Farmville, Va. “These are voters that have been difficult for Democrats to win over in recent presidential elections. We haven’t done as well with them as we should or as we would like.”

Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, who will take the debate stage Tuesday, is key to the campaign’s Ohio strategy. Kaine, a native of Minnesota who grew up outside Kansas City, Mo., is a Midwesterner himself and also is free of the political baggage that has given Ohio voters reservations about Clinton.

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Even Clinton and Trump agree that the vice presidential debate is mostly about them

Hours before their running mates were to debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said that the vice presidential clash would be a referendum on the top of the ticket.

Trump said the face-off between his running mate, Mike Pence, and Democrat Tim Kaine would demonstrate the two paths the nation faces in the election.

“The debate will be a contrast between our campaign of big ideas and bold solutions for tomorrow versus the small and petty Clinton campaign that has totally stopped in the past,” Trump told thousands of cheering supporters in Prescott Valley, a desert town 90 minutes north of Phoenix.

“We are change. She is four more years of Obama, and we can’t take that.”

Clinton hailed Kaine’s record in statewide and local office in Virginia and slashed at Pence’s tenure as governor of Indiana and at Trump.

Pence “has a huge burden defending both his own record and the record of Donald Trump,” Clinton told reporters in Harrisburg, Pa.

“I’m very confident and excited about Tim Kaine in the debate tonight because he understands what’s at stake,” Clinton said.

“He is ready to go toe-to-toe with Mike Pence on all the issues that matter to Americans. He is ready to take that fight to the Trump-Pence ticket.”

Mehta reported from Prescott Valley and Megerian from Harrisburg.

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What might happen if Kaine or Pence makes it to the White House

(Los Angeles Times / Associated Press)

The vice presidential debate Tuesday might matter little to the outcome of the race, but either Mike Pence or Tim Kaine will be consequential to the administration they serve in, if recent history is a guide.

The Times’ Noah Bierman looked this week at how the office of the vice president has grown in clout in recent decades, due to a number of factors, including shifting politics and the increasing demands placed on presidents.

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How irrelevant is the vice presidency? For nearly a fifth of U.S. history, no one held the office

Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, the latter two vice presidents who became president.
(Harvey W. Georges / AP/File Photo)

Here’s an amazing statistic to consider as you watch Tuesday’s vice presidential debate: The U.S. has gone without a vice president for more than a fifth of its 240-year history.

The fact speaks to the inherent contradiction of the nation’s second-highest office: For most of American history, it was largely an irrelevant post until it was supremely relevant.

Until the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1967, no provision existed for replacing a vice president when the position became vacant, as it had 16 times to that point. Thus, the job stayed open for months or even years.

Half of those times, the vacancy occurred because the vice president had ascended to the presidency upon the death of the incumbent. A ninth vice president, Gerald R. Ford, became president because of Richard M. Nixon’s resignation.

Seven vice presidents died in office, including one — William R. King — just six weeks into his term. Vice President John C. Calhoun resigned early to take a seat in the Senate. Spiro Agnew resigned after being indicted.

All told, since the first vice president, John Adams, took office in 1789, the office was vacant for the equivalent of 50 years.

The tally is unlikely to grow much. As my colleague Noah Bierman reported this week, the vice presidency has grown in consequence in recent decades, thanks to several factors, including the increased complexity of the president’s job.

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Why watch the vice presidential debate? Voters differ on whether it’s ‘critically important’ or immensely skippable

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Kara Kubisiak drove out to see Hillary Clinton speak in Harrisburg, Pa., on Tuesday, even bringing her 16-month-old daughter, who munched on an apple in her stroller.

But she doesn’t plan to flip on the vice presidential debate later.

“I’m more interested in Hillary,” she said.

Kubisiak, 33, doesn’t know a lot about Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate.

“I know he’s from Virginia,” she said.

The man standing next to her at the rally, Richard Schnoyer, was more enthusiastic about tuning in. He called the debate “critically important.”

After all, the 71-year-old said, both Clinton and Donald Trump are technically senior citizens. She’s 68 and he’s 70, so they need running mates who are prepared to step in.

Schnoyer is impressed with Kaine.

“His is a very good candidate,” he said. “He’s a middle-of-the-roader.”

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Donald Trump’s PTSD comments are ‘ignorant’ and ‘harmful,’ Hillary Clinton says

Hillary Clinton sharply criticized Donald Trump for his comments on military veterans and post-tramautic stress, which have drawn criticism for his suggestion that “strong” veterans don’t have to worry about the disorder.

“Donald Trump’s comments are not just ignorant, they’re harmful,” she said, raising concerns that such remarks increase the stigma surrounding mental health.

“Every one of our troops matter. Their wounds could be visible, or they could be invisible,” Clinton said.

Vice President Joe Biden has already teed off on Trump, calling him “completely uninformed.”

Trump’s campaign has defended the candidate, describing his comments as a sensitive recognition of a difficult issue.

“Mr. Trump was highlighting the challenges veterans face when returning home after serving their country,” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a Trump advisor, said in a statement.

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Joe Biden has some advice for Mike Pence

Vice President Joe Biden had a little trash talk for the Republican contender for his job on Tuesday, taking a moment out of his workday to offer some pre-debate “advice” for Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“Think about whether you made the right decision,” Biden said, hours before Pence’s debate with Biden’s fellow Democrat, Tim Kaine.

“Because it could be a long day in that office over there,” he said, pointing out the window at the White House, “if you don’t agree with the president.”

The warning was a thinly veiled reference to Pence’s differences of opinion with his running mate, Donald Trump. Pence clashed with Trump’s call to ban admission of Muslims to the U.S. last year, and long was a proponent of free-trade deals that Trump has excoriated.

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A lot of people might watch the vice presidential debate, but will it affect the race?

More Americans will likely watch Tuesday’s vice presidential debate than watched the summer political conventions, President Obama’s final State of the Union address or even the last Oscars or clinching World Series game.

That viewership, though, does not mean the match-up of Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana will make much of a difference in the presidential race.

Some of the most memorable moments in national debates have occurred in the vice presidential face-offs, including Democrat Lloyd Bentsen’s famous “You’re no Jack Kennedy” putdown of Dan Quayle in 1988. Yet it was George H.W. Bush who won that election and took Quayle with him to the White House.

But as that encounter showed, the debates can have lasting impact even if it doesn’t shift the race. In 2008, Sarah Palin’s capable and at times folksy performance — “Can I call you Joe?” — helped somewhat to temper doubts about her. In 2012, Vice President Joe Biden’s energetic clash with Rep. Paul D. Ryan reinvigorated Democrats after Obama’s flat debate performance the week before.

In this case, Pence needs to deliver a sure-footed performance after Donald Trump fell short in his opening debate with Hillary Clinton and compounded his poor showing both by doubling down on an attack on a former Miss Universe and subsequent revelations about a massive tax write-down he took.

Pence can also provide a measure of reassurance to many Republicans who aren’t convinced they can back Trump but are loathe to cast a ballot for Clinton.

For Kaine, like Pence a new face on the national stage, the task is to answer questions about Clinton’s liabilities that she did not address directly. In his more than two months on the ticket, he has made it a point to convey the trust he has in the former senator and secretary of State.

But barring a major gaffe by either man, and even perhaps if there is one, the public’s attention is likely to return quickly to how the candidates at the top of the ticket react and prepare for their own rematch Sunday.

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This voter can’t name Mike Pence, but she’s confident in Trump’s choice

(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Donald Trump supporters awaiting his appearance here weren’t too sure about either Mike Pence or Tim Kaine, the vice presidential nominees who will meet for their only debate Tuesday night. But no matter — they were confident in Pence, above, because Trump chose him as a running mate.

“I don’t know much about them,” said Ruth Sundin, 69, of Sun City West. She added that she couldn’t name either Pence or Kaine.

“But I’m sure Trump’s vice president is going to be better than the other guy. I mean, Hillary chose him.”

She said she would probably watch the debate, and that voters ought to pay attention to the vice presidential nominees “just in case some lunatic kills the president. It’s happened before,” she said.

Sundin, who lived around the globe as a Salvation Army officer, said Trump would improve U.S. standing in the world.

“Our country, as he says, is losing respect in the world because of the way our government has handled things,” she said. “I believe he’ll get that straightened out. He’s a businessman; he knows how to do that.”

James Peckham, a retired masonry contractor from Glendale, Ariz., said that while he was not familiar with Kaine, he approved of Pence’s track record as governor of Indiana.

“Pence is great. I think he’s an awesome guy. Conservative, very,” said Peckham, 69. “I don’t know much about [Kaine], but if Hillary picked him, he’s not going to be too good. Too liberal!”

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Your doctor’s political views might affect your healthcare

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times))

Even in our increasingly partisan society, you might have figured that your doctor’s office would be neutral territory. But that just goes to show how naive you are.

A new study from researchers at Yale University details significant differences in the way primary care physicians from across the political spectrum approach medical issues that touch on hot-button topics, such as abortion and gun control.

For instance, doctors were more likely to say they would counsel a patient seeking an abortion to consider the mental health consequences of going through with the procedure if they were registered to vote as Republicans than as Democrats. Likewise, doctors registered as Democrats were more likely to urge patients who owned guns to keep them out of their homes, while doctors registered as Republicans were more likely to ask if the guns were stored safely.

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Trump seeks to overcome deep unpopularity among women with new TV ad

After a week of outbursts that risked offending many women, Donald Trump is stepping up campaign advertising aimed at female voters, airing a new television spot touting his promise to subsidize child care.

The 30-second ad features a mother saying that Trump’s proposed income tax deduction for child care expenses “makes a difference for working families,” along with shots of the candidate’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.

The latest CBS News poll found the Republican presidential nominee running 18 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton among women, with Trump holding an 11-point lead among men.

Trump’s history of making derogatory remarks about women has hobbled his candidacy from the start. Comments that he made last week only added to the trouble. He attacked a former Miss Universe for gaining weight when he owned the beauty pageant and wrote on Twitter that Americans should “check out [her] sex tape,” which appears not to exist.

Trump also mocked Clinton for losing her balance last month when she was ill with pneumonia and said America needs a president with more stamina. And, with no evidence, he accused Clinton of being unfaithful to her husband.

Trump’s new ad is his second one promoting his pledge to help working women caring for their children. The first, released last week, features Ivanka Trump speaking directly to the camera.

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Hillary Clinton says people must ‘laugh at’ and ‘stand up to’ Donald Trump’s comments on women

Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea at a town hall in Haverford, Pa.
(Brendal Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

Trying to solidify her support with woman voters in this crucial battleground state, Hillary Clinton held a town hall-style event Tuesday focused on family issues with her daughter Chelsea and actress Elizabeth Banks.

It was a chance to tout her own education policies while criticizing what she has called Donald Trump’s record of misogynistic comments.

One 15-year-old girl asked Clinton how she would combat the impact of Trump’s crude remarks about women’s bodies, including a former Miss Universe.

“We need to laugh at it,” Clinton said. “We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. We need to stand up to it.”

Clinton also took questions about gun violence. She emphasized her support for the 2nd Amendment while insisting that new restrictions are necessary to lower the number of gun deaths in the country.

“We have got to have a counter-movement to this reckless, irresponsible propaganda that’s pushing guns everywhere to everyone,” she said. “The time has come for us to act. The deaths and the injuries and the losses are so great.”

Public polls have shown Clinton’s strength with voters in Pennsylvania, a state that is crucial to her potential victory in November.

She’s scheduled to hold another event in the state capital, Harrisburg, later in the day.

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Here is a joke about the vice presidential debate you can borrow

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Hillary Clinton and her allies continue to outpace Donald Trump in ad spending, report finds

Hillary Clinton continues to outpace Donald Trump in spending on television ads -- a trend that has moved into the fall as voters begin to cast ballots.

Clinton and her allies, such as the super PAC Priorities USA Action, are out-spending Trump and his supporters by a 4-to-1 margin with five weeks until election day, according to a report released Tuesday by NBC News and Advertising Analytics, a firm that tracks ad spending by political campaigns.

So far in the general election, Clinton and her backers have doled out $189 million, compared with $50 million by Trump and his supporters, the report said

The advantage by Clinton and her backers over Trump is down from a 5-to-1 edge last month.

Clinton and Trump are each spending much of their cash in Florida, a crucial battleground state with 29 electoral votes.

Clinton and her supporters so far have spent about $46.5 million in the state, compared with $14 million by Trump and his backers, such as the National Rifle Assn., according to the report. This week alone in Florida, Clinton and her allies are spending $4.2 million while Trump has his backers are spending $2.8 million.

An average of several polls from Florida shows Clinton outpacing Trump by about 3 percentage points.

Last week, after a poor showing in their first presidential debate, Trump released a pair of new television ads, one assailing Clinton over her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State, and the other showcasing his daughter, Ivanka, touting the GOP nominee’s proposals to aid working women caring for their children.

For months, Clinton and Democrats has castigated Trump in television ads for his past comments about, among others, Mexican immigrants and women. In recent days, new ads have focused on a report that Trump could have avoided paying income taxes for 18 years.

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New Pennsylvania poll shows Hillary Clinton expanding her lead over Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton has expanded her lead over Donald Trump to nearly double digits in Pennsylvania, a new Franklin & Marshall College Poll has found.

The state is considered a must-win for Trump in November. Other polls had shown her lead there plummeting in September as questions arose about her health and the activities of her family’s foundation.

In the new poll, based on surveys from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, she led 47% to 38% among voters considered likely to cast ballots. The last Franklin & Marshall poll, taken in August, showed Clinton with a five-point lead.

The new survey was conducted after the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 and is in line with polls in other key states that showed Clinton regaining ground. She now holds leads — some of them very narrow — in all battleground states except Ohio, where Trump has maintained his edge.

Clinton’s Pennsylvania showing was boosted by support among women and those with college educations, groups that have strongly backed her elsewhere. Trump retains support among those without college degrees, but those voters make up a shrinking part of the Pennsylvania electorate.

The support of Clinton by women and the college-educated also accounts for her 47%-39% support among white voters, a group that Trump has been winning in some states.

Clinton maintained a lopsided 72%-16% support among nonwhite voters, pollster G. Terry Madonna said.

The Franklin & Marshall poll has a margin of error of 6 points in either direction among likely voters.

A survey released Monday by Quinnipiac University showed Clinton leading Trump 45% to 41% in the state.

Here’s a look at the campaign fight in Pennsylvania and, particularly, in Philadelphia.

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Why watch the vice presidential debate? To lock down the undecided, two voters say

Aren Platt, 40, and Jessica Cosme, 29, both political consultants in Philadelphia, have long decided that they would vote for Hillary Clinton.

But “there are far too many people who are undecided,” Cosme said after Clinton spoke here on Tuesday.

The two of them hope the vice presidential debate exposes how Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, shouldn’t be next in line for the Oval Office.

“He has a lot of ideas that are really out of touch with mainstream America,” Platt said.

Pence is a social conservative who opposes same-sex marriage and signed legislation that allowed businesses to ignore laws that conflicted with their religious beliefs. After an outcry, the measure was later revised to prevent discrimination.

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Bill Clinton on Obamacare: ‘The craziest thing in the world’

Bill Clinton criticized President Obama’s most significant policy achievement while campaigning for Hillary Clinton this week, breaking with his wife’s public practice by referring to aspects of the Obamacare system as “the craziest thing in the world.”

At a rally for Democrats in Flint, Mich., on Monday, Clinton said the current system works fine for seniors on Medicare, poor people on Medicaid and low-income earners who qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

But small-business owners and individuals who make just a little too much to qualify for government subsidies are “getting killed in this deal,” the former president said.

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have healthcare, and then the people who are out there busting it sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half,” Clinton said. “It’s the craziest thing in the world.”

In their substance, the remarks weren’t at odds with the Democratic nominee’s public stand. Hillary Clinton says she wants to “defend and build on the Affordable Care Act” and improve it, possibly through a public option that may bring down the price of other plans through competition.

But Bill Clinton broke with Hillary Clinton’s fierce public loyalty to Obamacare, a split message that either showed him to be off the campaign game plan — or mercurially in sync with it.

It was “the true definition of a campaign gaffe, where a politician screws up by saying what they really think,” said Kevin Madden, an advisor to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

At the same time, Bill Clinton could be making a play for white working-class voters who feel they are suffering under the Affordable Care Act — feeding a suspicion in Washington that the former president could morph into a shadow candidate, saying the things the real candidate can’t say.

“Everyone is always quick to ascribe some sort of triangulating genius” to Bill Clinton, as one strategist put it. “Best way to test the theory that it’s some sort of signaling? Watch to see if they walk this back.”

Right off the bat, the Clinton campaign did not do so.

“What he was expressing was the same view that not only Hillary Clinton has, but President Obama would express as well,” senior Clinton advisor Jen Palmieri told MSNBC on Tuesday. “As much progress has been made with the ACA, there are still a lot of cost issues to be dealt with not just for small businesses, but for some individuals.”

In his Obamacare critique in Flint, Bill Clinton offered one policy scenario.

“Here’s the simplest thing,” he said. “Figure out an affordable rate and let people use that, something that won’t undermine your quality of life, won’t interfere with your ability to make expenses, won’t interfere with your ability to save money for your kids’ college education, and let people buy into Medicare or Medicaid.”

It is unclear exactly what he meant, but that simple solution could be an allusion to the thing liberals most want — a single-payer system.

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Why watch the vice presidential debate? They’re next in line, one Pennsylvania voter says

Martha Bryans, 66, said she’s definitely tuning in to the vice presidential debate on Tuesday night.

After all, she said, they’ll be next in line for the Oval Office if something happened to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

“Both of our candidates are in their 70s,” Bryans said while waiting for Clinton to take the stage here. “It’s important.” (Clinton is actually 68 years old; Trump is 70.)

She didn’t know much about Tim Kaine, a U.S. senator and former governor from Virginia, when he was announced as Clinton’s running mate, but is pleased about what she’s learned.

“There is a homespun quality about him,” Bryans said. “It balances [Clinton’s] intellectual, academic approach.”

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Election day is five weeks away, but voters already are casting ballots

(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press))

There may be three more debates ahead, including Tuesday night’s vice presidential contest, and countless more campaign rallies and television ads to air. But their impact on the electorate will diminish with each passing day; early voting has already begun.

More than a dozen states already are collecting ballots either through absentee votes by mail or in-person early voting, and there could be some early clues as to the outcome.

A database maintained by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald in conjunction with the Associated Press Election Research Group finds that 96,024 votes have been cast nationwide.

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Joe Biden: ‘I can’t fathom’ avoiding taxes like Trump brags about

Vice President Joe Biden hit the airwaves Tuesday in his Democratic Party role of middle-class champion, boiling down Republican Donald Trump’s income tax issue the way he hopes voters will see it.

Biden blasted Trump for working the system to avoid paying federal income taxes — and especially for bragging about it.

“Since when does somebody who lives at the top in the world, in a penthouse overlooking the world, be in a position that he doesn’t feel any obligation at all to pay any federal income tax to support the military, to support education, to support our foreign policy?” Biden asked. “Can you imagine any other president, any other president, just ever say that and be proud of that? I can’t fathom it.”

The remarks, in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, reflect the frustration Democrats are feeing with the reception of a New York Times report that Trump declared a $916-million loss on his 1995 income tax returns. Though Trump has not made his yearly income tax filings public, documents obtained by the Times show he declared losses qualifying him to avoid paying possibly any federal income taxes for nearly two decades after that.

Many voters seem to embrace Trump’s defense of his practices, though. He’s in the best position to fix the tax system because of his experience gaming it, he says. What’s more, supporters add, the records reflect that he’s a “genius” of a businessman.

But rival Hillary Clinton says the report is evidence that Trump, running for office on the strength of his career in business, falls short of what he claims.

“What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in the first place?” she said in the wake of the Times report.

Biden is taking a different tack. Just because you can avoid paying taxes, he suggested Tuesday, doesn’t mean it’s excusable.

“Since when is that a patriotic thing to do?” Biden asked.

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Americans still sharply split on global warming, poll finds

Rising sea level has caused increasingly frequent street flooding in Miami when the highest tides hit, as they did in September 2015.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Americans remain deeply polarized on climate change, but broadly support increased reliance on solar and wind energy, a new poll found.

The partisan split extends “across a host of beliefs about the expected effects of climate change, actions that can address changes to the Earth’s climate, and trust and credibility in the work of climate scientists,” the nonpartisan Pew Research Center survey reported.

“People on the ideological ends of either party — that is, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans — see the world through vastly different lenses across all of these judgments,” the report found.

The Pew survey is one of the most comprehensive independent polls documenting attitudes on global warming in recent years.

It found 76% of liberal Democrats said that cuts in power plant pollution can make a big difference in addressing climate change, while 29% of conservative Republicans agreed.

Similarly wide gaps emerged between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans on whether other policies can make a big difference: an international agreement to limit carbon emissions; tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks; and corporate tax incentives to encourage businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

Overall, 48% said they believe human activity is causing climate change, 31% said it was due to natural causes and 20% said there was no evidence of global warming at all.

Pew’s findings portend grueling political struggles ahead as the next president and Congress grapple with climate change, which President Obama views as humanity’s greatest long-term threat.

Facing resistance from Republicans in Congress, Obama has used his executive powers to try to curb global warming by, among other things, mandating cuts in pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has vowed to press forward with his climate agenda and build upon it.

Her GOP rival, Donald Trump, rejects science showing that carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels is warming the Earth and endangering civilization. If he is elected, he plans to withdraw the U.S. from the nearly worldwide Paris climate treaty mandating reductions in carbon emissions and lift all Obama administration restraints on the burning of coal, oil and gas.

Pew found wide partisan divides on the potential for environmental devastation from climate change, and what might be done about it.

But across the political spectrum, large majorities back expansion of solar panel and wind turbine farms — 83 % of conservative Republicans and 97% of liberal Democrats. The poll also found widespread agreement on expanding wind energy.

8:30 a.m: This post was updated with more details from the poll.

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump watch running mates take center stage

Expect Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to have quiet nights Tuesday while their running mates, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, get the spotlight for the one-and-only vice presidential debate.

Trump is planning to spend the night in Las Vegas, where he’ll watch the debate after speaking at a rally outside of Phoenix. He often stays at his hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

Meanwhile, Clinton is holding a town hall with daughter Chelsea in the Philadelphia area and tehn attending a voter-registration event in Harrisburg, Pa. She’s scheduled to be back in her Westchester, N.Y., home during the debate.

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And in this corner . . . um, Mike and Tim who?

Mike Pence and Tim Kaine are preparing for a range of questions at their debate matchup Tuesday night, but the first one they have to answer is empirically obvious: Who are Mike Pence and Tim Kaine?

A new NBC/Survey Monkey poll shows that a large number of likely voters don’t even know enough about either man to have a positive or negative impression.

That’s slightly more true for Kaine among all likely voters (40%) than for Pence (33%), but it’s not a strong number for either.

Democrat Kaine is a little less known among voters of his party, 35% of whom say they do not know enough about him to have an opinion, according to NBC News. Among Democrats and those who lean Democrat, 56% have a favorable impression.

Pence is better known among Republicans and those who lean Republican, the network reports. Some 27% say they don’t know enough to say, while 66% think well of him.

It’s a perennial problem for running mates, of course, and in this case there hasn’t been dramatic change in name recognition since nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump picked Kaine and Pence as running mates over the summer.

Late-night hosts still get a laugh out of showing their pictures to people on the street and recording their utter lack of familiarity with Indiana Gov. Pence and Virginia Sen. Kaine. Even Trump this summer confused Kaine with a former New Jersey governor by the name of “Kean.”

Still, boosting name ID is far from the most important task ahead. As the more policy-minded member of the Republican ticket, Pence is preparing to make the logical case for Trump’s ideas. Kaine, meanwhile, is getting ready to tear those explanations apart, while also making the case for policy-wonky Clinton as a trusted and caring leader.

In relative terms, the personal introductions may be the easy part of the night.

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Anthony Bourdain on if he’d dine with Trump

Absolutely ... not.

— Anthony Bourdain, CNN’s “Parts Unknown” food show host, interjecting some salty language into <a href=””> an interview with The Wrap</a> about his take on Republican nominee Donald Trump.

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How to watch the vice presidential debate

What: The only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election, featuring Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine, moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News

When: 9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific. Ninety minutes without commercial breaks

Where: Farmville, Va.

TV: All broadcast channels and cable news networks: ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, Univision, Telemundo and C-SPAN

Livestream: Watch our live stream here. Also, YouTube and others, including Facebook, which is partnering with ABC

Online: Follow The Times’ live coverage here on Trail Guide

Radio: NPR

Social media: Use the hashtags #debates or #debates2016

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RNC ad attacks Tim Kaine’s past legal defense of death penalty convicts

Republicans launched a stinging ad ahead of Tuesday’s vice presidential debate, attacking Tim Kaine’s work as a defense attorney on capital offense cases.

“Long before Tim Kaine was in office, he consistently protected the worst kinds of people,” the narrator says in the ad “America Deserves Better.”

The Republican National Committee pointed to the Democratic vice presidential candidate’s defense of several convicted murderers on death row in its 1-minute, 23-second spot. The cases include Richard Lee Whitley, who was convicted of murdering a 63-year-old neighbor, and Lem Tuggle, convicted of raping and killing a 52-year-old woman.

Critics have compared it to the racially tinged ads featuring felon Willie Horton that were launched by the George H.W. Bush campaign against Democratic rival Michael Dukakis in 1988

The RNC also brings up Kaine’s decision as the governor of Virginia to commute the death sentence of Percy Levar Walton in 2008. Walton murdered three people, but Kaine argued that the man had a lack of mental competence.

“He has a passion for defending the wrong people,” the narrator finishes.

The ad prefaces a possible controversial subject, the death penalty, which could come up tonight during the debate.

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