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Kaine and Pence spar with each other, and some facts

Tim Kaine, left, Mike Pence appear after the

Tim Kaine, left, Mike Pence appear after the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo Credit: AP

Night of the attack dogs

Sen. Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence knew this much before they faced off in the vice-presidential debate: This really isn’t about them.

Democrat Kaine and Republican Pence spent as much time as possible attacking Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively, reports Newsday’s Yancey Roy.

“I can’t imagine how Governor Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, me-first style of Donald Trump,” Kaine said.

“That’s small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a ‘basket of deplorables,’ ” Pence countered.

A quick CNN/ORC poll found 48% judged Pence the winner to 42% for Kaine.

As the spotlight swings back to Trump, Clinton and their next debate Sunday, a few impressions that Pence made may linger: He spoke far more harshly than Trump about Russia’s Vladimir Putin and more passionately for outlawing abortion.

The fact checks, please

The first fail flagged by fact-checkers came in Pence’s opening statement — a “thank you to Norwood University” for hosting the debate.

The debate was held at Longwood University. (CNN).

Did Obama raise taxes?

Pence said President Barack Obama had been raising taxes.

It is true that under Obama income taxes went up on people earning more than $400,000 a year. Obama’s health care reforms come with a series of new taxes that do affect lower earners.

But Obama also has extended permanently tax cuts that were set to expire and enacted a series of temporary tax cuts aimed at jump-starting the economy. (PolitiFact)

The Iran nuke deal

Kaine said the Iran deal eliminated its nuclear program.

Most independent experts say the deal is both effective on paper and close to the best outcome the United States could have achieved through diplomatic means to freeze the program.

But it’s not certain how well the accord will hold up over time, especially once some of its provisions expire. (PolitiFact)

Wage levels

Kaine claims that Trump said “wages are too high.”

Trump said in a GOP debate last year that with “taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”

Two days later, he said he was talking about a proposed $15 minimum wage being too high, not all U.S. wages in general. (FactCheck.org)

Border control

Pence said Clinton supports “open borders.”

Trump and Clinton differ on what to do about noncriminals who are illegally living in the United States.

But as far as prioritizing whom to deport, both have said they’d focus on criminals and dangerous individuals. She has also said, “We need to secure our borders” — not eliminate border controls. (FactCheck.org and PolitiFact)

Clinton foundation

Pence said the foundation “accepted foreign contributions from foreign governments and foreign donors while she was secretary of state.”

There were rules in place then that were designed to put curbs on foreign donations to the foundation, which funds health care and education programs. But those rules didn’t eliminate dollars from overseas and, in one case, the foundation has acknowledged they were not followed. (Washington Post)

Pence said only 10 percent of the foundation’s money goes to charitable work. It’s closer to 90 percent. (FactCheck.org)

Syrian refugees

Pence said Clinton and Kaine want to increase the number of Syrian refugees by 550 percent.

It is true that in September 2015, Clinton had called the 10,000 figure for the United States a good start, but had urged an increase up to 65,000.

A caveat: Those numbers applied to fiscal year 2016, which ended on Oct. 1, 2016. Clinton has not discussed numbers for the current year. (PolitiFact)

Trump’s tax returns

Kaine said Trump broke a promise to release his tax returns. Pence said he has not.

In 2014, Trump said in an Irish TV interview that if he ran for president, he would “absolutely” release his tax returns. (Politico)

The take-away: Dynasty to dust

For better or worse, this is the election year that the Republican Party, under its new standard-bearer, divorced itself from the Bush clan, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

A symbol of the shift is Rudy Giuliani, who in the hours after the 9/11 attack, said, “Thank God George Bush is our president,” but now embraces Trump and his contempt for Bush’s policies and legacy.

The gaffes of October I

Bill Clinton’s comments Monday describing the shortcomings of Obamacare as “the craziest thing in the world” put him, his wife and other Democrats in damage-control mode Tuesday — sure, it needs improvements, they said.

Trump pounced, and somehow made it about the Clintons’ marriage again. “I’ll bet he went through hell last night,” Trump said, adding: “Honestly, there have been many nights when he’s gone through hell with Hillary.”

The gaffes of October II

As Trump Monday was calling for greater attention to mental health issues for veterans, one of his comments to a group of military retirees about the horrors of war drew fire: “You’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.”

Critics said Trump was feeding a notion that PTSD sufferers were weak — a stigma that leads some to resist seeking help. Clinton joined in Tuesday, accusing her opponent of showing “insensitivity and ignorance.”

What else is happening

  • Libertarian Gary Johnson sees a silver lining to his brain freezes on questions involving foreign leaders or places. Those who know where to find a country on a map are more likely to get into a war there, he reasoned on MSNBC.
  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican seeking re-election, ate her words soon after saying in a debate that she was “absolutely” OK with Trump as a role model for kids. “Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example,” she said later.
  • Michael Chertoff, who 20 years ago was the top Senate GOP counsel in an investigation of the Clintons’ Whitewater case, endorsed Clinton for president. Their relations warmed when he became Homeland Security secretary in 2005, and he says she knows best “how to protect the country.”
  • Whitewater prosecutors in the 1990s drafted but never issued a criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton. A federal judge Tuesday turned down a conservative group that sued to seek release of the document.
  • An alleged Guccifer 2.0 hack of the Clinton Foundation looks phony, The Hill writes.
  • Trump said his use of a declared $916 million business loss to shield his income from taxes for 18 years showed his “brilliance.” His former accountant disagrees. “I did all the tax preparation. He never saw the product until it was presented to him for signature,” Jack Mitnick told “Inside Edition.”
  • Kaine's charge of Trump running a campaign based on insults got some added heft with the Republican billionaire's live tweeting of the VP debate. 
  • Pence got wide kudos for his control under verbal fire. Many rated him a winner for that reason.
  • The Aurora Lions Club in Aurora, Indiana, made national news after one of the floats in its parade featured a mock Hillary Clinton in an electric chair with an imitation Donald Trump pulling the switch.
  • William Weld will attack Trump, from his perch as Johnson's VP candidate, in the remaining five weeks, with an eye toward a Trump-less post-election GOP, the Boston Globe reports.
  • Oops! The Trump campaign sent out a boilerplate tweet declaring Pence the winner of the debate -- an hour and a half before the debate began.
  • The NY Daily News also got a copy of the Trump tax form in the mail but didn't vet it before the New York Times published it, according to this report.

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