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Primary Concerns Episode 31: How Tim Kaine Won By Losing

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have always insisted a major of advantage running against Donald Trump instead of a more polished candidate is it requires putting almost no spin on anything. Just show the people what he’s said and the rest will fall into place.

That strategy was vindicated at the first vice presidential debate in Farmville, Virginia Monday night, where her running mate Tim Kaine browbeat Trump’s running mate Mike Pence repeatedly, forcing Pence to choose between defending the indefensible and lying.

In the immediate aftermath, pundit-theater critics declared Kaine the loser against Pence, and perhaps the public will reach the same conclusion. But already we’re seeing clear signs that winning in the moment was less important to team Clinton than relitigating Trump’s basic indecency and driving a wedge between him and his running mate. Deadspin Senior Editor Ashley Feinberg joins us to explore how the key to winning the VP debate was getting into Trump’s head one way or another.

Further reading:

  • In Deadspin, Ashley Feinberg wonders whether Mike Pence’s relatively smooth performance will get under Trump’s famously narcissistic skin.
  • Speaking of Trump’s narcissism, Ashley runs through Trump’s sordid history of sexually objectifying his oldest daughter, Ivanka.
  • Brian Beutler argues Pence’s entire role this campaign is running interference for Trump’s efforts to scam GOP voters, officeholders, or both. The debate was merely a microcosm of his larger purpose.