CHICAGO (CBS) — In the race for the White House tonight, the Vice Presidential candidates take center stage.
They’ll square off in Virginia, where the goal for each will be to defend their bosses, and avoid any giant gaffes, CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports.
Neither Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence nor Democrat Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine is exactly known as an attack dog, the role traditionally played by Vice Presidential candidates.
Both have taken part in political debates in their careers. But this will be the biggest, most intensely watched stage either has ever stood upon.
They’ll both be introducing themselves to a national audience.
A new CBS News poll shows a majority of registered voters don’t know enough to have an opinion of them. And what makes their jobs tougher, is their running mates–Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump–both viewed unfavoribly by big segments of voters.
“Never have we seen a vice-presidential debate where the candidates have to make up more ground and deal with more problems created by the images of the two people at the top of the ticket,” Longwood University’s Dr. Bill Harbour says.
For his part, Pence has had a rocky road as Indiana’s governor, passing, then watering down, a religious freedom law that many saw as legalizing bias against gays.
And federal courts threw out Pence’s plan to prohibit Syrian refugees in Indiana.
But the Trump campaign insists tonight’s focus will be on the headliners.
“You’ll see Mike Pence, somebody who is able to defend Donald Trump, the running mate, but at the same time take the case to Hillary Clinton,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump campaign manager say.
The latest CBS news poll shows Clinton holding a four-point lead in a four-way race.
And Tim Kaine’s job will be to not diminish that.
“He wants to make the positive case that we’re stronger together. We can build economy for everyone, not just those at the top,” Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta says.
No doubt, Kaine will bring up this week’s revelations that Trump likely paid no income taxes for years, after claiming a near billion-dollar tax loss in 1995.
As Virginia’s governor, Kaine will be playing on home turf.
Meanwhile, Pence may be aided by his skills as a former conservative talk show host.