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Interest Groups and the Vice Presidential Debate


National Institute for Civil Discourse
October 5, 2016

National Institute for Civil Discourse Releases Civility Index of Vice Presidential Debate

Research supports the need for NICD’s recently-released set of Debate Standards

Washington, DC—The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) today released a civility index on the vice presidential debate, concluding that both candidates fell short on civility. As it did for the first presidential debate, NICD worked with Robert Boatright, NICD Research Director and Professor of Political Science at Clark University, and Timothy Shaffer, NICD Research Associate and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Kansas State University to have students measure incivility using a detailed research questionnaire.

In the questionnaire, respondents were asked to identify uncivil acts such as direct insults, or a refusal to answer the moderator’s questions, along with civil behaviors, such as a willingness to take responsibility for past errors, or to denounce uncivil acts taken by others. Questionnaire respondents had little trouble identifying instances where the candidates insulted each other. They also found many instances where the candidates called each other out for past uncivil statements and behavior.

Students cataloged a variety of insults, interruptions, and other uncivil behaviors on the part of both candidates. Findings include:

·         Seventy percent identified instances where Tim Kaine insulted Mike Pence, and 60 percent identified instances where Pence insulted Kaine.

·         Respondents reported they found Pence appeared less willing than Kaine to answer questions and to take responsibility for the actions of his running mate.

·         Respondents noted that Pence frequently called out Kaine for uncivil behavior, such as interruptions.

The major contrast between the vice presidential debate and the first presidential debate, however, lay in the decision of both candidates to insult someone other than their debate opponent:

·         Kaine directed most of his criticism at Donald Trump rather than at Mike Pence, and Pence directed a number of insults at Hillary Clinton.

There were also clearer partisan divisions among our respondents. The students we had coding this debate were more Republican than those who coded the first debate, and our Republican respondents were more likely to find Kaine’s comments about Trump insulting. Many Democratic respondents did not find these same comments to be uncivil. In contrast, there was substantial agreement among Democrats and Republicans on what constituted uncivil behavior in the first presidential debate.

“After the rampant incivility of the first Presidential Debate, I hoped that Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence would set a new standard of civility going forward. The research is clear and the candidate unfortunately continued the troubling trend of uncivil debates,” said Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

“Our research continues to show that this election’s debates are uncivil events, seemingly one of the few things something both Republican and Democrats agree on this election,” said Robert Boatright, NICD Research Director and Professor of Political Science at Clark University.

The NICD civility questionnaire was completed by students at two colleges and universities, chosen in order to achieve some variety in the location of the schools, the type of school, and the ideological composition of the student body. Students watched the debate together and answered questions on civility as the debate progressed. Additionally, City Clubs in Boise, Idaho and Cleveland, Ohio also distributed the questionnaire to their members. NICD expects to repeat the project in subsequent debates using other demographics and release a report after the election benchmarking this year’s debates against those of prior elections.

This research supports the need for NICD’s recently-released set of Debate Standards that, if adopted, would ensure that the debates are fair, informative, and civil. NICD has shared the standards with the Commission on Presidential Debates, presidential debate moderators, presidential campaigns, as well as moderators and candidates in statewide elections.

“Even after the uncivil presidential and vice presidential debates, I remain confident that, if the candidates and moderators follow our Debate Standards, the remaining debates can be informative sessions where Americans learn more about the candidates’ visions for America. We must revive civility. Our democracy depends on it,” said Lukensmeyer.

More than 75 organizations have already signed on to the standards, including AARP; education institutions such as the Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, the University of California Berkeley Center on Civility & Democratic Engagement and the University of Virginia Center for Politics; civic forums, such as the City Club of Cleveland and City Club of Portland; and faith organizations, such as the Faith and Politics Institute and Interfaith Alliance. A complete list can be found on NICD’s website:

NICD was formed at the University of Arizona with the goal of improving civility in our political discourse in the wake of the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords. Earlier this year, NICD launched a national campaign to #ReviveCivility.

About the National Institute for Civil Discourse:

The National Institute for Civil Discourse, is a non-profit, non-partisan institute based at the University of Arizona dedicated to addressing incivility and political dysfunction in American democracy by promoting structural and behavioral change. Informed by research, NICD’s programs are designed to create opportunities for elected officials, the media, and the public to engage different voices respectfully and take responsibility for the quality of our public discourse and effectiveness of our democratic institutions. Their National Advisory Board includes former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Herbert Walker Bush; former Senators Tom Daschle and Olympia Snowe; former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Colin Powell; former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; and journalists like Katie Couric, Greta Van Susteren, NPR’s Scott Simon.

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
October 5, 2016

Statement by Maya MacGuineas on Vice Presidential Debate

Last night’s vice presidential debate included important fiscal issues that have been largely ignored in this campaign. Neither candidate responded in any depth. Voters need more specifics on how the presidential candidates plan to address these critical issues, which are intimately linked to economic growth, economic security and our future prosperity. 
The debt matters. It is at an historic post-World War II era high, and it is growing faster than the economy. Neither campaign has put forward a plan that devotes even a single penny to reducing the debt and putting it on a sustainable path, and our report Promises and Price Tags shows in detail that both candidates would make the debt worse, and Donald Trump's plan would add over $5 trillion more to it.
Social Security’s trust funds are on track to run out by 2034, just as today’s 49-year-olds are reaching the normal retirement age. Failure to address the program’s finances in a timely manner will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts, including a $10,000-a-year cut for a typical couple just entering retirement. Thoughtful Social Security reform must be a national priority to protect the retirement security of millions of current and future beneficiaries.
We didn’t learn much last night about what the two tickets would do to improve our fiscal and economic future. Neither has a plan to save Social Security or stem the growth of our debt. That makes the last two presidential debates all the more important.

American Federation of Teachers
October 5, 2016

AFT’s Weingarten on the Vice Presidential Debate

NEW YORK CITY—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the Oct. 4 vice presidential debate:

“At Tuesday night’s debate, Tim Kaine did exactly what he set out to do. From start to finish, he pointed out—with fact after fact—the recklessness that makes Donald Trump unfit for the presidency of the United States.

“We applaud Kaine for putting his commitment to public education front and center—mentioning at the outset the fight for educational equity and justice that occurred decades ago in Farmville, Va., and pledging to work with Hillary Clinton to make the classroom a better learning environment for students and teachers. We saw, on Tuesday night, why Kaine will be a powerful partner for Clinton in her effort to level the playing field for working families and extend educational and economic opportunity to all Americans.

“Rather than bothering to make the argument for his running mate, Mike Pence gave debate viewers a polished but phony performance—feigning disbelief that Trump had hurled the toxic rhetoric and abuse Americans have heard from him for more than a year. What Americans learned from Pence was that even Trump’s running mate finds Trump indefensible—and would rather talk about anything but the extreme, dangerous words that Trump has said.”

# # # #

The AFT represents 1.6 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

- See more at:

October 5, 2016

SEIU’s Henry: Tim Kaine puts forward positive Clinton-Kaine vision for America, Mike Pence pretends his running mate doesn’t exist

FARMVILLE, Va.— Following tonight’s vice presidential debate, Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Tonight, Tim Kaine proved that he is the leader who working families need to serve with Hillary Clinton. This campaign is about Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine’s agenda to build an economy and democracy that work for us. It’s about investing in service and care workers who fuel our modern economy. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine have a plan and they’re ready to lead. Tim Kaine laid out that agenda and demonstrated that leadership tonight.

“Pence tried to fool voters by refusing to address what his running mate has said and done. But working families and union voters aren’t confused. They know Trump and Pence will bring us back to the darkest days of our past. They are bad for our families, bad for working people and bad for America. Trump and Pence ignore the need for higher wages, and are ready to deport millions of people on day one. We cannot afford to allow Donald Trump and Mike Pence to take our country in a direction that’s all wrong for working families.

“Tim Kaine is ready to be our next vice president and SEIU members will be knocking on doors, making phone calls and getting out the vote to push Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine over the finish line.”

Secular Coalition for America
October 5, 2016

Pence and Kaine Offer Voters Contrasting Views on Church/State Separation

Washington, D.C.-- Towards the end of last night's Vice Presidential debate, both candidates briefly discussed the issue of abortion and how their personal faith impacts public policy. The Secular Coalition for America released the following statement in response to the comments made by both candidates.

Statement by Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America

"Last night the American people saw the difference between a candidate who respects the separation of church and state and one who does not. In a secular country, lawmakers have a constitutional duty not to write their personal religious beliefs into law. Senator Kaine displayed an exemplary understanding of this principle when he said that a lawmaker's personal religious beliefs should never influence the decisions they make as a public servant. Governor Pence stood as a near perfect contrast to this approach. He drew a straight line between his religious beliefs and the cruel anti-choice policies he supported while serving as Governor of Indiana."

"The stark difference between Senator Kaine and Governor Pence demonstrates the significance of their disagreement. The exchange that occurred on the issue of reproductive rights could have undoubtedly played out on a variety of issues, including climate change, science education, and religiously-based discrimination. This is why it imperative that voters get informed about each candidate's view on the proper relationship between religion and government. The secular approach to governing outlined by Senator Kaine last night is the only way to guarantee that Americans of every faith and no faith are free to decide for themselves what role, if any, religion will play in their lives. The twisted definition of religious freedom embraced by Governor Pence puts this decision in the hands of lawmakers, who write beliefs into the laws of the land. On November 8, it imperative that Americans know which vision of religious liberty they are voting for."

Contact: Casey Brescia,, (845)-380-6201


The Secular Coalition for America is the nation's premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations.

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
October 5, 2016

What You Did and Did Not Hear about Social Security Last Night

Debate watchers predicted last night’s Vice Presidential debate might put policy above personality (for a change) and to some degree that happened.  For starters, the words Social Security and Medicare were finally uttered by participants.  That’s progress given that millions of average Americans and their families depend on these programs, plus the fact that the candidates’ records couldn’t be more different. The discussion itself; however, certainly wasn’t very deep. Here is the exchange.


There are a couple key points here.  Mike Pence absolutely refused to acknowledge or address in any way his record as one of Congress’ leading supporters of privatization.  As we reported earlier, when Pence was in the House he supported a privatization scheme that was even more draconian than the failed effort by President Bush.  Even after the President admitted defeat, Pence continued to push for the privatization of Social Security.  But Pence’s dodge and deflect skills were in full force last night:
KAINE: But -- but you have a voting record, Governor.
PENCE: And I get all of that. I just, look...
PENCE: There's a question that you asked a little bit earlier that I want to go back to.
KAINE: I can't believe that you won't defend your own voting record.
PENCE: I have to go back to.
PENCE: Well, look, I -- you're running with Hillary Clinton, who wants to raise taxes by $1 trillion, increase spending by $2 trillion, and you say you're going to keep the promises of Social Security. Donald Trump and I are going to cut taxes. We're going to -- we're going to -- we're going to...
KAINE: You're not going to cut taxes. You're going to raise taxes on the middle class.
PENCE: ... reform government programs so we can meet the obligations of Social Security and Medicare.
Republican talking points have long required that candidates use “reform” when they mean cut, and “protect” when they mean privatize.  The promise to protect current seniors’ benefits is also a poll-tested strategy designed to misdirect attention away from plans to cut benefits for future generations. This “greedy geezer” approach assumes seniors only care about their own benefits, not their children and grandchildren’s.   
“The purest articulation of intergenerational warfare as a wedge to break up Social Security's political coalition is a 1983 paper published by the libertarian Cato Journal. It was titled "Achieving a 'Leninist' Strategy," an allusion to the Bolshevik leader's supposed ideas about dividing and weakening his political adversaries.
The paper advocated making a commitment to honor Social Security's commitment to the retired and near-retired as a tool to "detach, or at least neutralize" them as opponents of privatization or other changes. Meanwhile, doubts among the young about the survival of the program should be exploited so they could be "organized behind the private alternative."
So when you hear a politician promising to exempt the retired and near retired from changes to Social Security, while offering to make it more "secure" for future generations, you now know the game plan.”...Los Angeles Times, 2012
Senator Tim Kaine was right to try and force some clarity from the Trump/Pence campaign on their specific plans for the nation’s most effective retirement and health security programs because, in a nutshell, the Donald Trump of this campaign does not resemble the “Social-Security- is-a-Ponzi scheme” Donald Trump of any other year.  Why, is not really mystery as Trump 2.0 himself has said:
"As Republicans, if you think you are going to change very substantially for the worse Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in any substantial way, and at the same time you think you are going to win elections, it just really is not going to happen" ...Trump at 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference
Hopefully, last night’s VP debate won’t be our only chance to hear the Presidential campaigns address Social Security and Medicare.  American voters deserve to hear specifics about what these candidates have done and said...not just what they promise they’ll do.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Oct. 4, 2016 9:55 PM
Subject: A Dem consultant just asked us to stop Tweeting about Kaine.

Kaine -- not bold:

"Hillary Clinton supports expanding Social Security -- and never cutting it. Tim Kaine undercut Clinton tonight and failed to motivate voters by taking the the most lackluster and minimalist position on Social Security, promising only to oppose completely privatizing it. While thrilling in 2005, that is simply not a sufficient position in 2016. Tim Kaine needs to study up on Clinton's positions and come out firmly for expanding Social Security -- and never cutting it." -- Adam Green, Co-Founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee

CLINTON: “We should expand Social Security, not cut or privatize it.”


American Conservative Union

Mike Pence is the most conservative VP nominee the country has seen in 50 years (99% alignment with ACU). 
The single most liberal VP nominee in our lifetime is Tim Kaine, the only nominee with a perfect 0% Lifetime rating.
Puts him to the left of Senator Barack Obama (10%), Senator Hillary Clinton (8%) and Senator Bernie Sanders (6%).
Below is the list of 18 VP nominees going back to Hubert Humphrey.
VP Nominee   ACU Rating
Mike Pence     99.0
Dick Cheney   90.8
Jack Kemp      88.8
Paul Ryan       88.6
Bob Dole         82.4
Dan Quayle     80.3
Gerald Ford     64.0
Lloyd Bentsen 40.5
Joe Lieberman 15.1
Al Gore           14.6
Tom Eagleton          12.9
Joe Biden        12.4
John Edwards  12.2
Geraldine Ferraro 8.3
Edmund Muskie 6.4
Hubert Humphrey 5.0
Walter Mondale 3.7
Tim Kaine            0.

 Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes
Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes placed this billboard in Virginia on the road between Washington, DC and Farmville, VA.  According to a man working nearby, the billboard went up at 6 a.m. on October 4.