Tag Archives: debates

Kaine, Pence prepare for undercard debate on Tuesday

With the first presidential debate complete and its spin cycle nearly over, the two understudies are getting ready to take the main stage. The vice presidential debate Tuesday will be the only time Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine will have the nation’s political attention all to themselves, away from their much more well-known running mates.

The stakes will be lower than the three presidential debates, but will give each largely undefined candidate a chance to make a mark on a national audience.

Running mates rarely overshadow the top of the ticket, although Sarah Palin caused a sensation as Republican John McCain’s pick in 2008. But voters always have a reason to size up the people who would be next in line for the presidency.

The 2016 candidates are older than the norm. Though their doctors said they are fit to serve, Hillary Clinton, who will be 69 before the election, has had several health problems in recent years while Donald Trump, 70, has for months held off disclosing much about his own fitness.

Pence, Trump’s running mate, is taking a decidedly un-Trump like approach to the vice presidential debate. He’s preparing for it.

The Indiana governor and former 12-year congressman held mock debate sessions with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker as a stand-in, studying up on issues likely to be raised and making sure he avoids the criticisms of being unprepared that dogged Trump after his uneven performance a week ago. “We’re going to do our level best to be ready,” Pence told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt this past week.

Pence was spending the weekend back home in Indianapolis, taking a break from campaign travel to be with his family and continue informal debate preparations, spokesman Marc Lotter said.

Clinton’s running mate, a former Virginia governor and current U.S. senator, spent several days preparing for the debate in Raleigh, North Carolina, and in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The debate will take place at Longwood University, about an hour west of Richmond.

Helping Kaine is Washington, D.C., lawyer Robert Barnett, a veteran of prepping Democrats for debates. Kaine said he’s been “thinking hard” about what Pence’s record says “about the guy who chose him, because it really is more about Donald Trump than it is about Gov. Pence.”

Pence and Kaine are practiced public speakers with lengthy political careers who should bring a high level of polish to the undercard debate. Pence is a former talk radio host; Kaine a former Harvard-trained trial lawyer.

But both have played dramatically different roles since they were picked to be the No. 2s.

Pence has frequently been on the hot seat defending, deflecting and explaining some of his unconventional running mate’s more inflammatory comments and views. It’s made for some awkward moments, with Pence defending Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump’s apparent support for a policy of stop-and-frisk by police, and Trump’s feud with a Muslim-American family whose son, a U.S. Army captain, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.

After Monday’s presidential debate, Pence made the rounds on the television networks, where he broke with Trump on global warming. Trump has called warming a hoax, while Pence said after the debate that “there’s no question” human activity affects both the climate and the environment.

Kaine, by contrast, is much more in lockstep with Clinton and has rarely faced tough questions on a tightly managed campaign that’s so far been heavy with private glitzy fundraisers and lighter moments on TV. He’s no fire-eater. He’s called himself “boring,” a quality Clinton said she loves about him.

Some days Kaine’s toughest job is holding his own while jamming on harmonica with some world-class musical talents. That list so far includes Jon Batiste (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” house band leader), Lindsey Buckingham (guitarist for Fleetwood Mac), Asleep at the Wheel (local country legends in Austin, Texas) and John Popper (frontman for Blues Traveler).

Recently, while Pence was defending a tweet from one of Trump’s son’s comparing Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles, Kaine was in the middle of a California fundraising tour that included a dinner at actress Eva Longoria’s house and an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

After the first presidential debate, Kaine and Pence both claimed victory for their candidates and looked ahead to their showdown.

Speaking to volunteers in Orlando, Florida, Kaine said Clinton’s performance “raised the bar.”

“That puts pressure on me,” he joked.

On a TV appearance before flying to Wisconsin for two days of preparations with Walker, Pence said the same.

“Donald Trump raised the bar for his running mate,” Pence said.

Clinton, Trump and the road to 270

Hillary Clinton continues to hold advantages over Donald Trump in the states she would need to win the presidency in November, but Donald Trump has made gains in some battleground states.

The Associated Press has moved Iowa to leaning Republican after recent polls there by Quinnipiac and Monmouth Universities showing Trump’s lead there in the high single digits.

The AP considers preference polling, recent electoral history, demographic trends and campaign priorities such as advertising, travel and on-the-ground staff.

Many national and battleground state polls have showed Trump gaining on Clinton, but several surveys released last week, including an AP-GfK poll released Thursday, suggest the former secretary of state may be consolidating a national lead ahead of tonight’s presidential debate.

SOLID DEMOCRATIC: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state (200 total electoral votes).

LEANS DEMOCRATIC: Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin (72 total electoral votes).

TOSS-UP: Florida, Maine 2nd District, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio (69 total electoral votes).

LEANS REPUBLICAN: Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska 2nd District, Utah (50 total electoral votes).

SOLID REPUBLICAN: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming (147 total electoral votes).

Holt, Wallace to moderate presidential debates

NBC News chief anchor Lester Holt will moderate the first of three scheduled debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Sept. 26, with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace lined up for the others.

The Commission on Presidential Debates also said CBS News’ Elaine Quijano will moderate the vice presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine on Oct 4.

The third presidential debate, to be moderated by Wallace on Oct. 19, and first will be traditional question-and-answer sessions with the journalist choosing the topics. Raddatz and Cooper will team up for the second session on Oct. 9, a town hall-style meeting with half of the questions to be posed by audience members.

Each of the debates is scheduled for 90 minutes, with a 9 p.m. EDT start time.

Clinton has said she will participate in all three debates.

Trump as of Sept. 6 had not formally agreed, although he has reportedly been preparing to debate.

There was no immediate reaction from the candidates to the chosen moderators. The campaigns have no say in who is selected.

Moderating is one of a journalist’s most visible, and risky, roles.

Millions of people will be watching and ready to critique performances. Trump’s anger with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly was one of the primary campaign’s biggest stories, and it began because he didn’t like a debate question she asked about his attitude toward women.

The commission is bringing in new faces; none of those selected has moderated a general election debate before, although Raddatz did the 2012 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

Before Wallace’s selection, no Fox News personality had been a general election moderator.

It will be the first time since 1984 that the general election campaign’s much-anticipated first debate won’t be moderated by the now-retired Jim Lehrer of PBS. Two other 2012 moderators, Candy Crowley of CNN and Bob Schieffer of CBS, are also no longer active in TV news.

The leadoff position is a coup for Holt, who took over as NBC “Nightly News” anchor last year for Brian Williams and kept the broadcast on top of the ratings. The commission avoided potential political problems by not selecting Kelly or ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who was a White House aide of Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Fallout, however, included a letter of protest sent to the commission by the president and CEO of Univision, the nation’s most popular Spanish-language network.

Randy Falco said he wanted to express his “disappointment, and frankly disbelief” that no Latino journalist was selected as a moderator.

“It’s an abdication of your responsibility to represent and reflect one of the largest and most influential communities in the U.S.,” Falco wrote.

Univision’s Jorge Ramos, who celebrates 30 years as anchor of the network’s evening newscast this fall, said this week that it was “high time” a Latino journalist was considered. He said he was interested, and suggested others like Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo and Maria Hinojosa of NPR.

Quijano is of Filipino descent. At 42, she’s the freshest face of the selections. She’s an anchor and leads political coverage at CBSN, CBS’ 24-hour streaming service, and anchors CBS’ Sunday evening newscast.

Although he hasn’t done a general election debate, Wallace has moderated GOP primary debates with colleagues Kelly and Bret Baier. During the primaries, Cooper moderated two debates and seven town halls on CNN.

Fox’s Wallace said he was excited by the opportunity.

“They knew I was interested,” he said. “You kind of put the word out there to the debate commission, but you can’t lobby for it. You can’t do anything. They end up deciding it.”

The commission, chaired by former Republican National Committee head Frank Fahrenkopf and former Bill Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry, says little about its selection process.

Activists want debates to address issue of voter access

Dozens of civil rights groups want to shift the focus of presidential candidates from the early voting states to citizens’ voting rights.

A coalition of groups, led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, is pressing presidential debate moderators to ask candidates in both parties about protecting access to the polls.

The next opportunities for such questions will be on Nov. 6, when the Democratic candidates gather for a forum in South Carolina, and on Nov. 10, when the Republicans assemble at the Milwaukee Theatre for a sold-out debate hosted by the Fox Business Network.

“Voting is the language of our democracy,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the LCCHR. “Every candidate seeking our nation’s highest office must explain their position on the crucial voting rights legislation in Congress and say what they would do to make sure that no citizen is denied the right to vote.”

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, clearing the way for state-based campaigns to make it more difficult for certain populations to vote.

In Wisconsin, conservative lawmakers passed a voter photo ID law and reduced polling hours.

Legislation in the U.S. House and the Senate would strengthen the Voting Rights Act, but few presidential candidates have taken stands on the pending legislation.

The moderators for the Milwaukee debate — set to begin at 8 p.m. — are FBN managing editor Neil Cavuto, FBN markets editor Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker.

A news release from FBN said the debate would focus on “jobs, taxes and the general health of the economy, as well as domestic and international policy issues.”

Milwaukee to host GOP Debate

The GOP presidential candidates will debate in Milwaukee on Nov. 10. The main debate will be at 8 p.m. and the candidates in the lower tier will debate at 5 p.m. at the Milwaukee Theatre.

Calls to join a protest outside the theater on Nov. 10 went out in mid-October from the Black Lives Matter movement. Others organizing a protest include the Milwaukee Antiwar Committee, Youth Empowered in the Struggle-UWM, U.S. Palestinian Community Network-Milwaukee, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, UWM students for a Democratic Society, Iraq Veterans Against the War, No Drones Wisconsin, ACLU Student Alliance-Marquette, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Occupy Milwaukee and more.

Sanders follows GOP debate, critiques in tweets

As Republican presidential candidates debated on Sept. 16, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders took to Twitter at #DebateWithBernie to take on the White House hopefuls for ignoring critical issues.

“Rich get richer. Median family income $5k less than in 1999. One of the highest rates of childhood poverty. Any discussion?” asked Sanders during the debate. Sanders is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. “Have you heard anyone use the word poverty yet? 47.7 million Americans living in poverty. No discussion.” Still later he tweeted: “Waiting, waiting, waiting. Will we hear anything about racial justice, income inequality or making college affordable?”

Nearly two hours into the debate, the conversation briefly turned to the issue of raising the $7.25 hourly minimum wage.

“The American people overwhelmingly want to raise the minimum wage. Too bad the Republicans don’t,” Sanders tweeted. He has introduced legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

During a back-and-forth on foreign policy, Sanders asked, “Gee. How come these guys are not talking about the great ‘success’ of Bush’s foreign policy and the war in Iraq?”

A few minutes later he wondered, “Can these guys talk about anything other than their desire to go to war?”

During a discussion about a proposed deal to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Sanders wrote, “War, war, war. When do we get to their other major priority: tax breaks for billionaires?”

Later Sanders asked, “Will they talk about climate change as a foreign policy issue? Or talk about it at all?”

The candidates finally did. It turned out that not one of them believes that the U.S. government should lead the world in combating climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels.

On domestic issues, Republicans wanted to take away health care for women and marriage rights from gays.

The candidates were asked about a Kentucky county clerk defying a court order and refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays. “Does anybody on the stage believe that our gay brothers and sisters have the same rights as the rest of us?” Sanders wondered. “Anybody?”

The Republicans also called for defunding Planned Parenthood. “Does anyone on that stage believe the women of this country have the right to control their own bodies? Anyone?” Sanders asked.

Some of Sanders’ most popular tweets were about Republican front-runner Donald Trump. “Trump: ‘I will take care of women.’ Really? What about respecting the right of women to control their own bodies?” Sanders said. As the front-runner smirked and ridiculed his challengers, Sanders said of Trump: “What a pleasant and humble person. Can’t stop saying kind and generous things about his fellow Republicans.”

Sanders gave up after more than two and a half hours.

“Thank you all. I’ve had it. I’m going home. Talk to you soon.”

He ended the night with a Facebook post: “The evening was really pretty sad. This country and our planet face enormous problems. And the Republican candidates barely touched upon them tonight. And when they did, they were dead wrong on virtually every position they took. The Republican Party cannot be allowed to lead this country. That’s why we need a political revolution.”

Libertarians file complaint with Wisconsin over exclusion from debate

Wisconsin’s Libertarian Party has filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board alleging that the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association is violating state campaign finance law with its proposed broadcast debate for gubernatorial candidates.

Andy Craig, a candidate for secretary of state on the Libertarian slate, filed the complaint in cooperation with Robert Burke, the Libertarian candidate for governor.

The broadcasters association traditionally sponsors televised debates in statewide elections, and has done so since the late 1990s.

The complaint from the Libertarians alleges that the group’s threshold for inclusion in 2014 is “deliberately designed to ensure a two-party debate in a four-candidate race.” A candidate must be at 10 percent or higher in polls and must have raised at least $250,000 in campaign contributions.

Robert Burke opted to run a no-donation campaign for governor under the banner “Give to the poor, not politics.”

The complaint says the debate criteria is unfair to third-party or independent candidates who usually receive a much higher number of votes per-dollar-spent than do traditional major party campaigns.

Libertarian Ed Thompson, for example, received more than 10 percent of the vote in his bid for governor in 2002 and spent about $50,000. He also placed first in two Wisconsin counties, although he was excluded from the WBA debate.

The complaint with GAB specifically alleges that the WBA is engaging in an illegal in-kind contribution to the gubernatorial campaigns of Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke, who are the only candidates bringing in the kind of money to participate in the debate. 

“Only a broadcast debate which extends an invitation to all general election candidates for governor can satisfy the legal requirement that the extremely valuable and expensive broadcasting time and debate sponsorship, and the corporate resources which go into them, not be used to promote the election or defeat of any candidate. This is what distinguishes a debate, which would be legal for corporations to fund and promote as an educational service to voters, from an electioneering advertisement” said Craig.

The Libertarian Party is Wisconsin’s third-largest political party. Twelve Libertarian candidates are running this year in the state, including five for statewide offices.

2nd presidential debate on Oct. 16

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama meet again on the debate stage tonight, Oct. 16.

The Oct. 16 presidential debate will be a town meeting focusing on foreign and domestic policy. The debate will take place at 9 p.m. EST at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., with CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley as the moderator.

On Oct. 22 at 9 p.m., the presidential candidates will debate foreign policy at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The moderator will be Bob Schieffer, Host of “Face the Nation” on CBS.

The debate will be divided into six segments of about 15 minutes each on topics to be selected by Schieffer. He’ll open each segment with a question, give each candidate two minutes to respond and then use the balance of the time for a discussion on the topic.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry has stood in for Romney in Obama’s practice sessions, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is playing Obama for Romney.

The first presidential debate took place on Oct. 3, with Jim Lehrer of “Newshour” moderating at the University of Denver.

Baldwin, Thompson meet for second debate on Oct. 18

Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Tommy Thompson, who agreed to a total of three debates before the Nov. 6 general election, will next meet on Oct. 18. The third debate takes place Oct. 26.

The second debate in Wausau on Oct. 18 will be sponsored by Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and TMJ4.

The third and final debate will be Oct. 26 hosted by Mike Gousha from WISN-TV in partnership with the Marquette University Law School and the WISN network of affiliates.

The first debate on Sept. 28 was sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation in Milwaukee.

Check local TV and radio listings.



3 debates for U.S. Senate candidates Baldwin, Thompson

Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Republican Tommy Thompson have agreed to three debates before the Nov. 6 general election. 

The candidates, who are running for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, will debate Sept. 28, Oct. 18 and Oct. 26.

Each of the debates will be broadcast statewide. 

The first debate on Sept. 28 is sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation and will be in Milwaukee. 

The second debate in Wausau on Oct. 18 will be sponsored by Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and TMJ4.

The third and final debate will be Oct. 26 hosted by Mike Gousha from WISN-TV in partnership with the Marquette University Law School and the WISN network of affiliates.



Must see TV: The political debates

Finally, the fall season offers the matchup sure to attract the biggest audience of the campaign: President Barack Obama going one-on-one with Republican Mitt Romney in three prime-time debates.

Typically the top political draw in the final sprint to Election Day, the debates assume outsized importance this year with the race a dead heat.

The candidates will have their sound bites and rhetoric down cold so any slip or inadvertent move – remember President George H.W. Bush’s exasperated glance at his watch or Democrat Al Gore’s repeated sighing? – could roil the campaign for days and linger in voters’ mind until Nov. 6.

No wonder Romney spent days this past week at the Vermont estate of former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey for debate practice sessions; Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, played the role of Obama.

The president has had one practice session with Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democrats’ stand-in for Romney, and is certain to have several more before the first debate Oct. 3 in Denver.

The second debate, a town hall-style session, is Oct. 16 in Hempstead, N.Y. The final debate, on foreign policy, is Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.

GOP running mate Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden have one debate, Oct. 11 in Danville, Ky.

Incumbents usually are at a disadvantage, defending a record against a challenger critiquing four years of work. Obama will be trying to avoid the fate of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who turned in flat debate performances in their first encounters with rivals. In the end, though, it didn’t hurt either one as they both won re-election.

“Debating is a muscle that doesn’t get used very often,” said Alan Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and the author of “Presidential Debates: Forty Years of High-Risk TV.” “Mitt Romney is better toned because he came off 20-plus primary debates. President Obama has not been on a debate stage in four years.”

Debates aren’t like the highly choreographed campaign event or stump speech marked by over-the-top rhetoric. Schroeder said debates require a different dynamic – candidates need to be respectful, differing in opinion but avoiding any impression that it’s personal.

“In 2008, the first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, one of the takeaways was McCain did not make eye contact with Obama,” Schroeder said. “That came off as rude, disrespectful.”

Part of the practice sessions is figuring out when to be aggressive and how to demonstrate leadership. It’s also honing the lines from months of campaign speeches as the candidates get their final opportunities to speak directly to tens of millions of voters.

In the first debate, on domestic policy, Romney and Obama will be armed with competing numbers and visions.

“We will not surrender our dreams to the failures of this president,” Romney told an audience in Bedford, N.H., last December. Expect the Republican to point to 23 million Americans out of work or underemployed, a national debt now at $16 trillion and three years of an unemployment rate above 8 percent.

In a speech in April, Romney sketched out the Republican vision of smaller government, less regulation and a greater role for business.

“Free enterprise has done more to lift people out of poverty, to help build a strong middle class, to help educate our kids, to make our lives better, than all of the government programs put together,” Romney told a meeting of the Newspaper Association of America.

Expect Obama to counter that more than 4.6 million jobs have been created since he took office after recession-driven job losses approaching 800,000 a month under Bush. In his bid to boost the middle class, the president will argue that he’s reduced the typical family’s federal tax burden by $3,600. He also will talk about shared responsibility and a role for government.

“As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government,” Obama said in his convention speech.

Both will be pressed for specifics on their job creation claims. Romney promises 12 million new jobs; Obama the creation of 1 million manufacturing jobs. Neither has said how he would make those jobs happen.

The candidates are diametrically apart on health care, Medicare, gay marriage, immigration and abortion rights – all potential debate issues.

The second debate on Oct. 16 will cover domestic and foreign policy with questions from a group of undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization. This format that could elicit the unusual and the memorable.

It was at a 1992 town hall debate involving President George H.W. Bush, Democrat Bill Clinton and independent Ross Perot in which the Republican was caught looking at this watch. His reaction came as an audience member was talking about how much the deep recession had personally affected him. Bush, who lost that election, later said that he was thinking: “Only 10 more minutes of this crap.”

The final debate Oct. 22 focuses on foreign policy, an area in which Obama has received high marks from Americans in opinion polls. The president will offer a spirited defense of his aggressive record in pursuing al-Qaida, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the collapse of Moammar Gadhafi’s government in Libya.

As for his rival, Obama said in his convention speech that Romney and Ryan are neophytes. “In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven,” the president insisted in arguing for his candidacy.

Obama said Romney and Ryan “are new to foreign policy, but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.”

Romney has argued that Obama has “thrown Israel under a bus” and has failed to show resolve in challenging Iran and its suspected nuclear weapons program. He likely will talk about his close friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he did in a speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in March.

“In a Romney administration, there will be no gap between our nations or between our leaders,” Romney told the gathering.

Expect Romney to complain about Obama cuts in projected military spending even though congressional Republicans, including his running mate Ryan, voted for them last year.