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Expanding the Debate: Green Ajamu Baraka “Debates” Pence & Kaine in Democracy Now! Special–Part 1

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Vice-presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine faced off in Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, Tuesday night in their first and only debate before next month’s election. Third-party vice-presidential candidates, including Libertarian William Weld and the Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka, were excluded from the debate stage under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. On Tuesday night, Democracy Now! aired a special “Expanding the Debate” broadcast, where we gave major third-party candidates a chance to respond to the same questions in real time as the major candidates. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joined us live from Richmond, Virginia. Baraka is a longtime human rights activist and the founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and coordinator of the U.S.-based Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Vice-presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine faced off in Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, Tuesday night in the first and only debate before next month’s election—the first and only vice-presidential debate. Pence is the governor of Indiana and a former congressman. Tim Kaine is the junior senator from Virginia and Virginia’s former governor.

Third-party vice-presidential candidates, including Libertarian William Weld and the Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka, were excluded from the debate stage under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties.

Well, on Tuesday night, Democracy Now! aired a special “Expanding the Debate” broadcast, where we gave major third-party candidates a chance to respond to the same questions in real time as the major candidates. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joined us live from Richmond, Virginia. Libertarian vice-presidential candidate William Weld did not respond to our invitation. Ajamu Baraka is a longtime human rights activist, founding executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network and coordinator of the U.S.-[based] Black Left Unity Network’s Committee on International Affairs. Today we air highlights from our “Expanding the Debate” special. We begin with moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, on the campaign trail, you praised Secretary Clinton’s character, including her commitment to public service, yet 60 percent of voters don’t think she’s trustworthy. Why do so many people distrust her? Is it because they have questions about her emails and the Clinton Foundation?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, let me tell you why I trust Hillary Clinton. Here’s what people should look at as they look at a public servant. Do they have a passion in their life that showed up before they were in public life? And have they held onto that passion throughout their life, regardless of whether they were in office or not, succeeding or failing? Hillary Clinton has that passion. From a time as a kid in a Methodist youth group in the suburbs of Chicago, she has been focused on serving others with a special focus on empowering families and kids. As a civil rights lawyer in the South, with the Children’s Defense Fund, first lady of Arkansas and this country, senator, secretary of state, it’s always been about putting others first.

And that’s a sharp contrast with Donald Trump. Donald Trump always puts himself first. He built a business career, in the words of one of his own campaign staffers, “off the backs of the little guy.” And as a candidate, he started his campaign with a speech where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and he has pursued the discredited and really outrageous lie that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. It is so painful to suggest that we go back to think about these days where an African American could not be a citizen of the United States. And I can’t imagine how Governor Pence can defend the insult-driven, selfish, “me first” style of Donald Trump.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence, let me ask you: You have said Donald Trump is, quote, “thoughtful, compassionate and steady,” yet 67 percent of voters feel he is a risky choice, and 65 percent feel he does not have the right kind of temperament to be president; why do so many Americans think Mr. Trump is simply too erratic?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, let me—let me say, first and foremost, that, Senator, you and Hillary Clinton would know a lot about an insult-driven campaign. It really is remarkable, at a time when, literally, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, where she was the architect of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, we see entire portions of the world, particularly the wider Middle East, literally spinning out of control. I mean, the situation we’re watching hour by hour in Syria today is the result of the failed foreign policy and the weak foreign policy that Hillary Clinton helped lead in this administration and create. The newly emboldened—the aggression of Russia, whether it was in Ukraine or now their heavy-handed approach—

SEN. TIM KAINE: You guys love Russia. You both have said—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —their heavy-handed approach—

SEN. TIM KAINE: You both have said Vladimir Putin is a better leader than the president.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, hang on a sec.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, we’re going to get to Russia in just a moment. But I do want to get back to the question at—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But in the midst—in the midst—yeah, Elaine, thank you. Thank you.

SEN. TIM KAINE: No, but, Elaine—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Thank you. Thank you, Senator. I’ll—yeah.

SEN. TIM KAINE: These guys have praised Vladimir Putin as a great leader. How can that they defend that?

ELAINE QUIJANO: Yes, and we will get to that, Senator.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yeah, yeah.

ELAINE QUIJANO: We do have that coming up here. But in the meantime, the questions were about your running mates.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, Senator, I must have hit a—

ELAINE QUIJANO: And your running mates—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yeah, I must have hit a nerve here, because—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Why the disconnect?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: At a time of great challenge in the life of this nation, where we’ve weakened America’s place in the world, stifled America’s economy, the campaign of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine has been an avalanche of insults. Look, to get to your question about trustworthiness, Donald Trump has built a business, through hard times and through good times. He’s brought an extraordinary business acumen. He’s employed tens of thousands of people in this country—

SEN. TIM KAINE: And paid few taxes and lost a billion dollars a year.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —built, literally, a global reputation.

ELAINE QUIJANO: But why the disconnect with your running mates?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But there’s a—there’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton. And that’s because they’re paying attention. I mean, the reality is, when she was secretary of state, Senator—come on—she had a Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from foreign governments—

SEN. TIM KAINE: You are Donald Trump’s apprentice.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —and foreign donors.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Let me talk about this issue of the state of the world.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But, Senator, I think—I think I’m still on my time.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I think—isn’t this a discussion?

ELAINE QUIJANO: This is our open discussion.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Yeah, let’s talk about the state of the world.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, well—well, let me interrupt.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, you have an opportunity—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Let me interrupt you and finish my sentence, if I can.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Finish your sentence.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions from foreign governments and foreign donors while she was secretary of state.

SEN. TIM KAINE: OK, now I can weigh in. Now—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: She had a private server—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Now, I get to weigh in. Now, let me just say this.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Which I did raise. Senator, please—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —that was discovered—

ELAINE QUIJANO: You have an opportunity to respond.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —to keep that pay-to-play process out of the reach of the public.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Governor Pence—Governor Pence doesn’t think the world’s going so well, and he, you know, is going to say it’s everybody’s fault.


SEN. TIM KAINE: Let me tell you this: When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, Governor Pence, do you know that Osama bin Laden was alive?


SEN. TIM KAINE: Do you know that we had 175,000 troops deployed in the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile? Under Secretary Clinton’s leadership, she was part of the national team, public safety team, that went after and revived the dormant hunt against bin Laden and wiped him off the face of the Earth. She worked a deal with the Russians to reduce their chemical weapons stockpile. She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Absolutely, without firing a shot. And instead of 175,000 American troops deployed overseas, we now have 15,000.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Right, and we—

SEN. TIM KAINE: These are very, very good things.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And Iraq has been overrun by ISIS, because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, if you want to plug some more American troops in Iraq, you can propose that.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Hillary Clinton—Hillary Clinton—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to bring Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka into this discussion. If you can respond to Governor Pence and Senator Kaine?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, I think that we are seeing a dramatic example of why the people of this country dislike and distrust both of these major candidates and their vice-presidential running mates. We have this silly bickering as opposed to getting to the real issues to debate for the American people. There’s a reason why they are both distrusted: because I think that the American people understand that both represent the politics of the establishment, the status quo, that the American people are very distrustful of. They see that, in fact, the Middle East has spun out of control. We see that the—Hillary Clinton led the attacks on a number of countries, including Libya, led the justifications for destabilizing Syria. They see that Donald Trump has his bombastic rhetoric regarding carpet bombing in the Middle East and attacking this nation and that nation. And they are sick of it.

Many people in this country are prepared to support a peace candidate. And the only peace candidate, the only peace ticket, in this race is, in fact, the Green Party. So this kind of bickering and these kinds of personal attacks, as opposed to having a serious conversation about the critical issues that face this country, issues of war and peace, is a perfect example of why more and more people are looking beyond these two parties and looking for a real alternative. And the only alternative we have right now is, in fact, the Green Party and the Stein-Baraka ticket.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka joining in Democracy Now!’s “Expanding the Debate” special, as we bring you more highlights in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: “If I was President” by Wyclef Jean. His home country, Haiti, is being ravaged by Hurricane Matthew. The issue of climate change was not raised in one question during last night’s sole vice-presidential debate of the 2016 election. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to our “Expanding the Debate” special. On Tuesday night, vice-presidential candidates Republican Governor Mike Pence and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine faced off at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, for their first and only debate before next month’s election. Democracy Now! aired a special “Expanding the Debate” broadcast Tuesday, where we gave major third-party candidates a chance to respond in real time to the same questions put to the major candidates. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joined us live from Richmond, Virginia. Today we’re airing highlights from that “Expanding the Debate” special. This is moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: The New York Times released part of Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax return and reported that he could have avoided paying federal income taxes for years. Yesterday, Mr. Trump said he brilliantly used the laws to pay as little tax as legally possible. Does that seem fair to you?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: This is probably the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine. I mean—I mean, Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine—and God bless you for it, career public servants, that’s great—Donald Trump is a businessman, not a career politician. He actually built a business. Those tax returns that were—that came out publicly this week show that he—he faced some pretty tough times 20 years ago. But like virtually every other business, including The New York Times not too long ago, he used what’s called net operating loss. We have a tax code, Senator, that actually is designed to encourage entrepreneurship in this country.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But why won’t he release his tax returns?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, we’re answering the question about—about the business thing. Is he—

SEN. TIM KAINE: I do want to come back on this, but—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: His tax return—his tax returns showed he went through a very difficult time, but he used the tax code just the way it’s supposed to be used. And he did it brilliantly.

SEN. TIM KAINE: How do you know that? You haven’t seen his tax returns.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: He created a runway—because he’s created a business that’s worth billions of dollars today.

SEN. TIM KAINE: How do you know that?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And with regard to paying taxes, this whole riff about not paying taxes and people saying he didn’t pay taxes for years, Donald Trump has created tens of thousands of jobs. And he’s paid payroll taxes—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, let me talk about that.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —sales taxes, property taxes.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, I’m going to give you about 30 seconds to respond, and I have question on Social Security for you.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The only issue on taxes is Hillary Clinton is going to raise taxes—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: —and Donald Trump and I are going to cut them.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Donald Trump started this campaign in 2014. He said, “If I run for president, I will absolutely release my taxes.” He’s broken his first—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And he will.

SEN. TIM KAINE: He’s broken his first promise. Second, he stood on the stage last—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: He hasn’t broken his promise. He said he’ll do it.

SEN. TIM KAINE: He stood on the stage last week, and when Hillary said, “You haven’t been paying taxes,” he said, “That makes me smart.” So it’s smart not to pay for our military? It’s smart not to pay for veterans? It’s smart not to pay for teachers? And I guess all of us who do pay for those things, I guess we’re stupid. And the last thing I’ll say is this—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, do you take all the deductions that you’re entitled to?

SEN. TIM KAINE: The last thing—the last thing I want to ask Governor Pence is this—


SEN. TIM KAINE: Governor Pence had to give Donald Trump his tax returns to show he was qualified to be vice president. Donald Trump must give the American public his tax returns to show that he’s qualified to be president.


SEN. TIM KAINE: And he’s breaking his promise.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Elaine, I have to respond to this.

ELAINE QUIJANO: You get very little time here, 20 seconds.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I mean, yeah, I’ll be—I’ll be very respectful.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Look, Donald Trump has filed over a hundred pages of financial disclosure, which is what the law requires.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But he said he would release his tax returns.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The American people can review that. And he’s going—Senator—

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, gentlemen, I need ask you about Social Security—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —he’s going to release his tax returns when the audit is over.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Richard Nixon released tax returns when he was under audit.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The issue the American people care about: They’re going to raise your tax, and we’re going to cut your taxes.

SEN. TIM KAINE: If you can’t meet the Nixon standard, people ought to have some—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, gentlemen, the people at home cannot understand either one of you when you speak over each other. I would, please, ask you to wait until it is that the other is finished.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka, his response to the question about The New York Times releasing part of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns that showed he could have avoided paying taxes for 18 years.

AJAMU BARAKA: Look, on the issue of taxes, I’m more concerned about the fact that we have a number of corporations, multinational corporations based in the U.S., that historically don’t pay any taxes. So we have a issue with individuals, rich individuals, who are able to avoid taxes, but we also have these multinational corporations, based in the U.S., that are avoiding taxes to the tune of $717 billion.

You know, there is a different code for the rich and one for the rest of us. And what we have to do is to eliminate that contradiction. So the real issue is not just the fact that Donald Trump took advantage of the tax laws. The real issue is that those tax laws exist. So, if we’re going to have a fair economy, if we’re going to have fairness in this economy, we have to eliminate those kinds of loopholes. And we are prepared to, in fact, do that. It’s a shame that we have corporations that make billions of dollars but yet are able to avoid paying any tax here in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: This is moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, I’d like to turn to our next segment now. And in this, I’d like to focus on social issues. You have both been open about the role that faith has played in your lives. Can you discuss, in detail, a time when you struggled to balance your personal faith and a public policy position? Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Yeah, that’s an easy one for me, Elaine. It’s an easy one. I’m really fortunate. I grew up in a wonderful household with great Irish Catholic parents. My mom and dad are sitting right here. I was educated by Jesuits at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City. My 40th reunion is in 10 days. And I worked with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras, now nearly 35 years ago, and they were the heroes of my life. I try to practice my religion in a very devout way and follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life. But I don’t believe in this nation, a First Amendment nation, where we don’t raise any religion over the other, and we allow people to worship as they please, that the doctrines of any one religion should be mandated for everyone.

For me, the hardest struggle in my faith life was the Catholic Church is against the death penalty, and so am I. But I was governor of a state, and the state law said that there was a death penalty for crimes if the jury determined them to be heinous. And so I had to grapple with that. When I was running for governor, I was attacked pretty strongly because of my position on the death penalty. But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye and said, “Look, this is my religion. I’m not going to change my religious practice to get one vote, but I know how to take an oath and uphold the law. And if you elect me, I will uphold the law.” And I was elected, and I did. It was very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward, but in circumstances where I didn’t feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did. That was a real struggle. But I think it is really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don’t feel like we can just substitute our own views for everybody else in society regardless of their views.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, it’s a wonderful question. And my Christian faith is at the very heart of who I am. I was—I was also raised in a—in a wonderful family of faith. It was church on Sunday morning and grace before dinner.

But my Christian faith became real for me when I made a personal decision for Christ when I was a freshman in college. And I’ve tried to live that out, however imperfectly, every day of my life since. And with my wife at my side, we’ve followed a calling into public service, where we’ve—we’ve tried to—we’ve tried to keep faith with the values that we cherish.

And with regard to when I struggle, I appreciate, and—and—and I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kaine’s sincere faith. I truly do.

SEN. TIM KAINE: That’s shared.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But, for me, I would tell you that, for me, the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that that ancient principle that—where God says, “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you.” And so, for my first time in public life, I’ve sought to stand with great compassion for the sanctity of life.

The state of Indiana has also sought to make sure that we expand alternatives in healthcare counseling for women, non-abortion alternatives. I’m also very pleased at the fact we’re well on our way in Indiana to becoming the most pro-adoption state in America. I think if you’re going to be pro-life, you should—you should be pro- adoption.

But what I can’t understand is with Hillary Clinton, and now Senator Kaine at her side, is to support a practice like partial-birth abortion. I mean, to hold to the view—and I know, Senator Kaine, you hold pro-life views personally, but the very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me. And I cannot—I can’t conscience about—about a party that supports that, or that—I know you’ve historically opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. But Hillary Clinton wants to—wants to repeal the long-standing provision in the law where we said we wouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.

So, for me, my faith informs my life. I try and spend a little time on my knees every day. But it all, for me, begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of every human life.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, this is a fundamental question, a fundamental question. Hillary and I are both people out of religious backgrounds. Her Methodist Church experience was really formative for her as a public servant. But we really feel like you should live fully and with enthusiasm the commands of your faith. But it is not the role of the public servant to mandate that for everybody else.

So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about them. We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but then make their own decision about pregnancy. That’s something we trust American women to do that.

And we don’t think that women should be punished, as Donald Trump said they should, for making the decision to have an abortion. Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He said he wants to put it on the ash heap of history. And we have some young people in the audience who weren’t even born when Roe was decided. This is pretty important. Before Roe v. Wade, states could pass criminal laws to do just that, to punish women if they made the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

I think you should live your moral values. But the last thing, the very last thing, that government should do is have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. And that is the fundamental difference between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket that wants to punish women who make that choice.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, it’s—it’s really not. Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that punished women who made the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Then why did Donald Trump say that?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We just never would.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Why did he say that?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, look, it’s—look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton. And so, you know—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I would admit that’s not a polished thought.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —things don’t always come out exactly the way he means them.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, can I say—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But I’m telling you what the policy of our administration would be.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Great, great line from the—great line from the Gospel of Matthew—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But what—but what—

SEN. TIM KAINE: “From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.”


SEN. TIM KAINE: When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’m telling you—

SEN. TIM KAINE: —or John McCain is not a hero, he is showing you who he is.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, you’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again. He—look—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Can you defend it?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: There are criminal aliens in this country, Tim, who have come into this country illegally, who are perpetrating violence—

SEN. TIM KAINE: You want to—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —and taking American lives.

SEN. TIM KAINE: You want to use a big tar brush against Mexicans on that?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: He also said, “And many of them are good people.” You keep leaving that out of your quote. And if you want me to go there, I’ll go there.

But here’s—there is a choice here, and it is a choice on life. I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with Donald Trump, who’s standing for the right to life. It’s a principle that Senator Kaine—and I’m very gentle about this, because I really do respect you—it’s a principle that you embrace. And I have appreciated the fact that you’ve supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of taxpayer funding for abortion, in the past, but that’s not Hillary Clinton’s view. People need to understand, we can come together as a nation. We can create a culture of life. More and more young people today are embracing life, because we know we are—we’re better for it. We can—like Mother Teresa said at that famous National Prayer Breakfast—

SEN. TIM KAINE: But this is important. I—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —bring the—let’s welcome the children into our world. There are so many families—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: —around the country who can’t have children. We could improve adoption—

SEN. TIM KAINE: But, Governor—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —so that families that can’t have children can adopt more readily those children from crisis pregnancies.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Governor, why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves? That’s what we ought to be doing in public life, living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing each other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Because there—

SEN. TIM KAINE: But on fundamental issues of morality—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Because, Senator—

SEN. TIM KAINE: —we should let women make their own decisions.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Because there is—a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn. I believe it with all my heart. And I couldn’t be more proud to be standing with a pro-life candidate in Donald Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. Ajamu Baraka, Green Party nominee for vice president?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, I have to say that while I’m not a person of faith, necessarily, in terms of the organized religious view, I do operate from a ethical framework, informed by my lived experiences, but informed by my understanding of the kinds of values that we must have in order to be fully formed human beings and to live in harmony with each other and with nature. And so I believe in the value of cooperation. I believe in the possibility of peace. I believe that human beings can be more than what they are today.

But I also believe very passionately that we cannot have a situation in this country where women are criminalized for exercising their self-determination over their bodies, that women have a fundamental right to autonomy and self-determination over themselves, their sex lives and everything else. And it’s sort of absurd for me to see these two white males engage in this kind of conversation. Well, to a certain extent, I guess we have to agree, though, with—more with Tim Kaine than the right-wing patriarchy of Mike Pence. I believe that he represents a position that is quite troubling, one that we have to reject as a society evolving in a way—in a direction in which we are going to represent and support and recognize the equal rights of everyone in the society.

It’s also quite surreal to me that both talk about the sanctity of life, just 20 minutes from talking about militarism and going to war. I guess that’s one reason why some of us find ourselves unable to completely understand the morality of some of these individuals who call themselves people of faith. It’s a clear contradiction to me. Tim Kaine, who says he believes in life, felt—said he was compelled to sign off on those death sentences in Virginia. That’s not true. He had the ability to commute those death penalty cases to life in prison. He made a political choice. And as a consequence, someone’s life was taken. So, you know, these kinds of ethical contradictions are the kinds of contradictions that we find reflected also in the contradictory policies of both of these candidates.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joining in Democracy Now!'s “Expanding the Debate” special with the two major-party candidates that took place in Virginia last night. This is Democracy Now! We'll continue our “Expanding the Debate” special in a moment.


AMY GOODMAN: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to our “Expanding the Debate” special. On Tuesday night, vice-presidential candidates Republican Governor Mike Pence, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine faced off at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, in their first and only debate before next month’s election. On Tuesday night, Democracy Now! gave major third-party candidates a chance to respond to the questions in real time live as the major candidates. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka joined us live from Richmond, Virginia. Today we’re airing highlights from our “Expanding the Debate” special. We go back to moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, Governor Pence, please—


ELAINE QUIJANO: I want to turn now to Syria. Two hundred fifty thousand people, 100,000 of them children, are under siege in Aleppo, Syria. Bunker buster bombs, cluster munitions and incendiary weapons are being dropped on them by Russian and Syrian militaries. Does the U.S. have a responsibility to protect civilians and prevent mass casualties on this scale? Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The United States of America needs to begin to exercise strong leadership to protect the vulnerable citizens and over 100,000 children in Aleppo. Hillary Clinton’s top priority when she became secretary of state was the Russian reset, the Russian reset. After the Russian reset, the Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea. And the small and bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States to the point where all the United States of America, the greatest nation on Earth, just withdraws from talks about a ceasefire, while Vladimir Putin puts a missile defense system in Syria while he marshals the forces and begins—look, we have got to begin to lean into this with strong, broad-shouldered American leadership.

It begins by rebuilding our military. And the Russians and the Chinese have been making enormous investments in the military. We have the smallest Navy since 1916. We have the lowest number of troops since the end of the Second World War. We’ve got to work with the Congress—and Donald Trump will—to rebuild our military and project American strength in the world.

But about Aleppo and about Syria, I truly do believe that—that what America ought to do right now is to immediately establish safe zones, so that families and vulnerable families with children can move out of those areas, work with our Arab partners, real time, right now, to make that happen.

And secondly, I just have to tell you that the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime to prevent them from this humanitarian crisis that is taking place in Aleppo.

Now, there’s a broad range of other things that we ought to do, as well. We ought to—we ought to deploy a missile defense shield to the Czech Republic and Poland, which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama pulled back on, out of not wanting to offend the Russians back in 2009.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, your two minutes are up.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We’ve just got to have American strength on the world stage. And when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, the Russians and other countries in the world will know they’re dealing with a strong American president.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary and I also agree that the establishment of a humanitarian zone in northern Syria, with the provision of international human aid, consistent with the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed in February 2014, would be a very, very good idea.

And Hillary also has the ability to stand up to Russia in a way that this ticket does not. Donald Trump, again and again, has praised Vladimir Putin. And it’s clear that he has business dealings with Russian oligarchs who are very connected to Putin. The Trump campaign management team had to be fired a month or so ago because of those shadowy connections with pro-Putin forces. Governor Pence made the odd claim—he said, inarguably, Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama. Vladimir Putin has run his economy into the ground. He persecutes LGBT folks and journalists. If you don’t know the difference between dictatorship and leadership, then you got to go back to a fifth grade civics class.

I’ll tell you what offends me—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, that offended me.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Governor Pence just—Governor Pence just said—Governor Pence just said that Donald Trump will rebuild the military. No, he won’t. Donald Trump is avoiding paying taxes. The New York Times story—and we need to get this—but The New York Times story suggested that he probably didn’t pay taxes for about 18 years, starting in 1995. Those years included the years of 9/11.

So, get this. On 9/11, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s hometown was attacked by the worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States. Young men and women—young men and women signed up to serve in the military to fight terrorism. Hillary Clinton went to Washington to get funds to rebuild her city and protect first responders. But Donald Trump was fighting a very different fight. It was a fight to avoid paying taxes so that he wouldn’t support the fight against terror.

ELAINE QUIJANO: The question was about Aleppo, Senator.

SEN. TIM KAINE: He wouldn’t support troops. He wouldn’t—he wouldn’t support—this is important, Elaine. When a guy running for president will not support the troops, not support veterans, not support teachers, that’s really important.


SEN. TIM KAINE: And I said about Aleppo, we do agree the notion is we have to create a humanitarian zone in northern Syria. It’s very important.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party, your response?

AJAMU BARAKA: This is a very dangerous conversation. What we are seeing from both candidates, of both—of both parties, is a commitment to go to war. You know, it’s very disheartening to see the kind of images coming from the conflict in Syria. But that conflict had a genesis. It didn’t just emerge out of thin air. And not to get into the details of how this conflict evolved, I think it’s important, though, to say that, you know, the U.S., their hands are not—are not clean, that this notion that the U.S. was standing on the side and not involved, that narrative is a false narrative.

And this idea that the collapse of the last ceasefire can be put at the foot of the Russians is, in fact, a outright lie. Now, that may be painful for folks who are not following the situation very closely, but it is, in fact, a fact, that, basically, the Pentagon undermined the agreement, the ceasefire agreement, that was negotiated by John Kerry, when they attacked the Syrian army and killed 62 of their soldiers, when they attacked a known site. That was the effective collapse of that ceasefire.

So, going into Syria and establishing a humanitarian zone, we’re talking about an act of war. Where is the legitimacy for that? The U.S. has no legitimacy to be operating in that territory. And this plan on both the Democrat side and the Republican side to take the U.S. back into a war—because when you’re talking about a intervention, you’re talking about boots on the ground. Another war? The American people are tired of this. And I don’t think they’re going to go for the justification for intervention again into this conflict.

What we would do with the Stein-Baraka administration is use the power of the state to engage in a real peace process, to use the power of this state to have real national reconciliation in Syria, to de-escalate the issues—de-escalate the conflict in Syria and across the Middle East. So, we’re not going to stand by and allow for this kind of war propaganda to be whipped up by both of these candidates and by the corporate media.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka as part of our “Expanding the Debate” special, when we gave him a chance to respond to the same questions posed to Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence in real time.

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Allan Nairn: Regardless of Who Wins in November, U.S. Wars & Aggression Will Continue

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