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Elaine Quijano will of CBSN is the first Asian American to moderate a national debate and at 42, one of the youngest in national debate history. | Screenshot

Thanks to the Republican nominee Donald Trump bad temperament and clear poor performance in the last presidential debate, the stakes for the Oct 4 vice presidential debate couldn’t be higher. But regardless of the tension going in, this will be the adult debate, where issues will be addressed without one candidate interrupting the other without merit, making faces, drinking a lot of water and acting the fool.

While Democratic nominee Tim Kaine and Republican nominee Mike Pence will be trying to outdo each other on who would make a better veep, the shadows of their head of the ticket will loom large and Pence will be under a lot of pressure to redeem the Republican ticket from the disastrous performance by Trump, who is still in denial. In Kaine and Pence we have two candidates who are qualified to be president and some would argue that Pence would be much better at the top of the ticket and he really does not fit the Trump mold of uncouth everything-goes politics. Pence will also be better prepared, so this will at least be most likely a debate on issues and substance.

The two will engage in a debate where most questions will be tailored toward explaining their boss’ positions, character and the drama surrounding them.

Tim Kaine

Expect Kaine to field questions about Clinton emails, Benghazi, Clinton Foundation. Kaine should also expect questions about past Clinton’s comments calling some Trump supporters “deplorable” and recently describing her former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters as “children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future.” Sanders has defended Clinton on the comments but as anything about Clinton, his explanation will fall on deaf ears and this will be classified as yet another reason why people don’t trust her.

But besides the usual attacks on Clinton, there is a likelihood that if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange makes good of his threat and release more “damaging” never-before seen Clinton’s emails the topic of the day could be turned upside down and the media will follow along in its usual zombie-like breathless trancy reporting. The announcement expected Tuesday, has, however, been canceled citing “security concerns” according to, a Russian-linked news website. Assange was scheduled to make the announcement from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London where he now resides under asylum fleeing accusations of rape and molestation brought against him by two Swedish women. Assange, an Australian, has denied the charges but the Swedish government has issued a warrant of arrest for him. Assange has said he considers Clinton a personal foe so his motives and attacks on Clinton cannot be considered pure. New York Times has also implied that WikiLeaks and Assange may be working as a laundering outlet for Russians intelligence because his attacks on the West tend to benefit Russia. It will be interesting to see how both Kaine and Pence react to any damaging information from WikiLeaks.

Kaine will have many opportunities to take the fight to Trump and Pence. But he needs to choose a few, at most 4 broad topics that raise questions about Trump’s temperament, his loyalty to the country’s foundation, that we all contribute to its greatness and his business acumen. He can do that by questioning what he is hiding in his tax returns. Call bull all the excuses that he is under audit and challenge them to produce and audit letter. He should build on where Clinton left off and question whether he is hiding information about his connection to Russian oligarchs who may have funded his businesses. Kaine should point out that Trump does not seem to have any fear when attacking regular people, but seems to subordinate himself to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He should ask Pence if he knows why Trump fears Putin so much. Does he owe him money?

Kaine should also bring up the illegal activities associated with Trump Foundation, Trump University and other such ventures. He should question Pence whether Trump companies violated the Cuba embargo.

Well, Kaine will have a lot of material to choose from. If he needs help he can find more here thanks to meticulous reporting from The Atlantic.

Mike Pence

Pence will have more explaining to do. He will have to explain his existence on the ticket especially considering their difference in personality with Trump. He will give a canned answer that he is balancing the ticket yada yada yada, but we know that is not true. He is stuck because that was the only gig left. He was an unpopular governor in Indiana and his prospects for re-election were slim. Pence will also have to explain the revelation that Trump may have not paid taxes for almost 20 years. The world will be curious to know the answer to that. This will be a great opportunity for a zinger from Kaine and question if Trump is a freeloader or a just the worst businessman out there. The list of things he will need to explain away are endless.

He will have to defend The Trump Foundation, which reports indicate sounds like a money-laundering front to avoid taxes. He will have to explain Trump’s erratic behavior, such as late night tweets attacking a former Miss Universe and he will also have to defend Trump on questions about his ties to Russia.

For Pence to have a good day, he will need to be very aggressive. But judging from his calm demeanor that is unlikely. He will need to attack Clinton over her handling of Libya, which led to the toppling and killing of its former President Muammar Gaddafi and the killing of four Americans in Benghazi. These attacks will be weak tea because Republicans have played them out including in one session where Clinton testified in front of a witch-hunting Congressional Committee. If Pence is not careful, this line of attack could backfire.

Pence goes in with a huge disadvantage, his mission is a double-edged sword. Will he give Trump a 100 percent endorsement of his policies and attacks? If he does he will taint himself and damage his prospects as a future presidential candidate. If he doesn’t come out and support Trump 100 percent, he will lose favor from the base and his future as a Republican candidate will still be bleak.

So Pence should go in with one goal–do no harm. He should not hurt or help Trump. As cringeworthy as it may sound, he should deflect on questions about Trump’s character and temperament. He must defend him as a credible person to be president because he has no choice and to reach out to discontented Republicans by attacking Clinton. This will have a neutral effect and might help bring home more mainstream Republicans who are still not ready to support Trump.

One things he must not do is attack Clinton for her husband’s infidelity. That would be a rookie mistake and he will find himself facing a barrage of attacks from both the moderator and Kaine.

Pence should lose respectably.

With the VP debate coming up, expect to see former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin pop up somewhere to give her two cents. We all know not to take her seriously, but watch with amusement when the mainstream media gives her a platform to spew new ignorance.

The Kaine and Pence debate will be a great debate to watch because unlike the Trump-Clinton debate, where only one candidate was prepared and adult, the veep debate will involve two adults. There will be nobody there to distract us with rude interruptions, random sniffing, frenzied water gulps and lack of substantial answers to questions requiring policy responses.

The debate moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News will take place Oct. 4 at Longwood University, Farmville, VA. The debate is scheduled to start at 6pm Pacific Time and it will be broadcasted live on various stations and websites including MSNBC, CSPAN, PBS, and CBS among other.

The moderator should play the role of asking topical questions, timekeeping, follow-up questions and calling out obvious misstatements and lies. Read about the moderator here, thanks to Cosmopolitan.

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