Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (R) speaks during the 2016 U.S. Vice Presidential Debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, the United States, Oct.4, 2016. Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence clashed Tuesday night during the only vice presidential debate, accusing the other side of launching an insult-driven campaign. (Xinhua/Bao Dandan)
By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Unlike the first debate between U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that was a full-on brawl, Tuesday night's Vice Presidential debate is expected to be more sedate, experts said.
Tuesday night's debate between two VP candidates -- Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the Republican pick for Vice President, and Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton's running mate -- will be their first face-off during which they are expected to focus on policy issues rather than on insulting.
Recent weeks have seen the sparks fly between Trump and Clinton, with the two making comments back and forth at the first debate on Sept. 26 and in speeches on the campaign trail and via social media.
With all the jabs back-and-forth and tit-for-tat, talk of policy has fallen short.
"I think the VP debates will be a much more sedate affair compared to the first presidential debate," Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua.
"With Kaine and Pence, there is less of an issue about personality and temperament, and, thus, we are likely to see a far more policy-driven debate," he said.
Kaine will continue to demonstrate his appeal to moderate voters, while Pence will have to balance the need to espouse the Republican policy platform, while also having to defend comments that Trump has made, said Mahaffee, referring to the many controversial statements that Trump has made during his campaign over the past year.
"Also, in an election where shoring up younger voters and moderate voters is key for the Clinton campaign, I think Kaine will try to attack the strict social conservatism that Pence has advocated during his career in Congress and as governor of Indiana," Mahaffee said.
While the VP debate will likely fall far short of the viewership of the first presidential debate, this is the one chance that the VP candidates share a national stage.
A recent poll showed that 40 percent of Americans can't identify the VP candidates, so it is important to take advantage of this debate to increase attention towards the individuals that will be a key part of the next administration, Mahaffee said.
"That said, given that attitudes are so firmly established for-or-against the names at the top of the ticket, I doubt that there will be a strong swing one way or another from this debate," Mahaffee said.
Pence will certainly try to present a far calmer, more policy-oriented approach, and likely try to emphasize the role that he and other establishment politicians will have in a potential Trump administration, he said.
Brookings Institution's Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua that the VP debate will attract much less attention than the presidential debates.
Neither nominee is well known nationally and each pales in comparison to their running mates, West noted.
"I expect the debate to be very substantive because each of the VP nominees is very knowledgeable about the issues and have very different views of public policy," West said.
Pence is very conservative, while Kaine got his start in public service by defending capital punishment defendants. Viewers will see sharp differences in the candidates' views about the future of America, he said.
"Pence will make Trump look like less of a loose cannon," West said, but adding that the Indiana governor will be put in the awkward position of having to defend controversial things his running mate has said.
"That will be the most interesting aspect of the debate -- how Pence defends his boss," West said.