Tim Kaine has a series of explanations for why he never brought up Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT past during the vice-presidential debate. Meanwhile, a new op-ed from Hillary Clinton in an LGBT newspaper is partly contradicting Kaine’s argument.
When asked on CNN whether he’d missed an opportunity by never confronting Pence as the governor who signed a so-called license to discriminate law in Indiana, Kaine at first blamed the moderator, CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.
“Well, it is the case that there was no question that was asked that dealt with Gov. Pence or just the issue of LGBT equality,” said Kaine. “Hillary and I are strongly for LGBT equality, including marriage equality, and a Trump-Pence ticket is deeply against it, especially Gov. Pence.”
Instead, Quijano asked both men to talk about how their religious views affected their decision-making when governing, and Kaine spent his time talking about how he’d enforced the death penalty as governor of Virginia despite its conflict with his Catholic beliefs. Kaine’s argument was strongly on the side of separation of church and state, and yet he never brought up Pence’s history of mixing the two when it comes to LGBT rights.
Then Kaine offered another explanation. He agreed with pundits who said he missed a chance to land a punch by ignoring Pence’s anti-LGBT record. He simultaneously said there just wasn’t enough time to spend three minutes talking about Pence’s record on LGBT equality.
“That was an opportunity,” he agreed. “I would have loved to have had a 93-minute debate instead of a 90-minute debate. But I think that pundit who said that was probably accurate.”
His last reason for not bringing up Pence’s history was more about political strategy instead of debate logistics. In it, Kaine took the most responsibility for deciding to leave out a discussion of Pence’s record.
“I viewed this as fundamentally a debate that was about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said, “not about Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. So I went in with the thought that, look, Hillary Clinton is the top of the ticket, and Donald Trump is the top of the ticket, and that’s where I’m going to focus. That was my goal and I think we succeeded at doing it.“
On this last point, Clinton’s commentary written for a Pennsylvania LGBT newspaper — Philadelphia Gay News — contradicts Kaine’s logic. Clinton makes the case that selecting Pence at all reveals something about who Trump would be as president.
“It’s not just Trump’s policies that reveal the kind of president he would be. So does his choice of running mate,” she wrote. “Mike Pence is one of the most anti-LGBT public officials in America. As governor of Indiana, Pence supported a bill that legalized discrimination against LGBT people. As a member of Congress, he voted against expanding the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He opposed the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ saying doing so would be ‘social experimentation.’ And he’s said that homosexuality would bring about ‘societal collapse.’ That’s why the stakes in this election are so high.”
On the other side, Trump is taking credit for Pence’s debate performance, saying during a rally on Wednesday that Pence demonstrates the wisdom of his “first hire.”
Watch Kaine's explanation below: