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Expanding the Debate: October 4th Vice-Presidential Debate

Special BroadcastOctober 04, 2016
Media Options

On Tuesday, October 4, Democracy Now! hosted special live coverage of the first U.S. vice-presidential debate from Richmond, Va. We aired the full debate between Republican VP nominee Mike Pence and Democratic VP nominee Tim Kaine and “expanded” the debate by giving third-party candidates a chance to respond in real time to the same questions. Green Party VP nominee Ajamu Baraka joined us from Richmond. We also invited Libertarian vice presidential candidate William Weld, who did not respond to our offer. Before the debate, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman moderated a pre-debate roundtable with Zaid Jilani and Lee Fang of the Intercept, Katherine Franke of Columbia University, Demos’ Naila Awan, Vietnam War veteran Andrew Bacevich and the ACLU’s Chase Strangio. After the debate, we aired responses from John Nichols and journalist Allan Nairn.

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

AMY GOODMAN: From Pacifica, this is Democracy Now!’s special broadcast, “Expanding the Debate.”

HILLARY CLINTON: Maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax. So—

DONALD TRUMP: That makes me smart.

HILLARY CLINTON: —if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.

AMY GOODMAN: A week after Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in their first debate, their running mates, Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, debate tonight in Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

SEN. TIM KAINE: To me, it just seems like our nation, it is just too great to put it in the hands of a slick-talking, empty-promising, self-promoting one-man wrecking crew.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: For the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of the sanctity of life, for the sake of our Second Amendment and for the sake of all our other God-given liberties, we must ensure that the next president appointing justices to the Supreme Court is Donald Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll air tonight’s debate and expand the debate by giving Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, who is barred from participating, a chance to respond to the same questions in real time posed to Pence and Kaine. All that and more, coming up. Welcome to Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In just under an hour, vice-presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine face off in Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, in their first and only debate before next month’s election. But third-party 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.

AMY GOODMAN: Tonight we will air the vice-presidential debate live, and we will expand the debate by giving a major third-party candidate a chance to respond to the same questions in real time. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka will join us live for the full debate. Libertarian vice-presidential candidate William Weld did not respond to our offer.

In the lead-up to the debate, we’ll host a roundtable discussion, leading up to the start of the vice-presidential debate, looking at the records of Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, and the state of the presidential race. But first, a bit of biographical background for the two major-party vice-presidential candidates.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Democrat Tim Kaine is the junior senator from Virginia and Virginia’s former governor. His selection as vice president was criticized by many progressives. Until recently, Kaine supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He was one of 13 Democratic senators to vote to give President Obama power to fast-track the TPP through Congress. He has been criticized by unions for his support of so-called right-to-work laws. He has also been seen as a friend of Wall Street who has advocated for loosening bank regulations. On foreign policy, he’s backed a no-fly zone in Syria. On social issues, Kaine has said he is personally opposed to abortion, but Planned Parenthood has given him a perfect score for his voting record.

AMY GOODMAN: Mike Pence is the governor of Indiana. In 2015, he made national headlines when he signed into law the highly controversial anti-LGBTQ Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave businesses license to discriminate. Dozens of companies, professional sports teams and leagues, including the Indianapolis-headquartered NCAA, threatened to boycott Indiana. Ultimately, Governor Mike Pence was forced to enact a revision specifying the law does not authorize anti-LGBT discrimination. As governor, Pence also oversaw a cut in Planned Parenthood funding in Indiana and signed legislation, which has since been blocked, that would have restricted abortion access statewide. In 2011, as a congressmember, Pence threatened to shut down the entire government if Congress did not defund Planned Parenthood.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, to talk about these issues and more, we’ll spend the rest of the hour with a number of guests. Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani are journalists with The Intercept. Chase Strangio is a staff attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT and AIDS Project. Katherine Franke is director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University and the board chair of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Naila Awan is a civil and human rights lawyer at Demos. And Andrew Bacevich is a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. His latest book is titled America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. His previous books include Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin with two reporters at The Intercept. Zaid Jilani is in Washington, D.C., and Lee Fang is in San Francisco. Lee’s most recent piece is headlined “Big Business Declares TPP the Winner in Vice Presidential Debate.”

Lee, let’s go there first. Talk about why you see big business as the winner, even before the debate begins.

LEE FANG: Amy, thanks for having me. It’s a privilege to be here.

Earlier today, in the run-up to the debate tonight, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest big business lobbying group in America—this is a trade group that represents big companies like ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical—they pronounced the true winner of the debate, which is free trade. These big trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, back to NAFTA, all these controversial trade deals over the last two decades have been pretty much supported by both running mates, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

Now, in the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of populist rhetoric. We’ve seen Donald Trump centering his economic policy in opposition to these trade deals; Hillary Clinton, under intense political pressure from Bernie Sanders, reversing her support from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal that she helped negotiate.

But for the running mates, it’s a completely different story. Mike Pence, when he was in Congress, voted for every single free trade deal before him. He also supports the TPP. Tim Kaine was one of a small group of Democratic senators who supported fast track last year, that legislation that lays the groundwork for President Obama to move ahead with the TPP. Now, Kaine has reversed his position when he joined the Clinton campaign ticket this summer, saying that he now has reservations about the TPP. But the Chamber of Commerce seems very confident that Kaine is simply playing politics and that, once elected, he will move back into supporting the TPP.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, let’s go to Zaid Jilani now in Washington, D.C. Zaid, can you tell us a little bit more about Tim Kaine and his positions on issues like climate change and others, and how much that accords with the Democratic Party?

ZAID JILANI: Sure. First of all, it’s great to be here. I love Democracy Now!, and it’s a great resource, I think, for people all over the country.

With respect to Kaine, I actually had a chance to talk to him two days before he was picked to join the Democratic ticket. And one of the first things I asked him about was the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And even that—you know, that day, two days before he joined the ticket, he praised the agreement. He praised the intellectual property provisions, in particular, and he stood by his vote to help fast-track the agreement, which will make it much easier to pass.

At the DNC, I also happened to speak to some energy lobbyists from the American Petroleum Institute, which is one of the main oil folks out on Capitol Hill, and they told me that he was the best they could hope for. Kaine, I think, in many ways, is an ethical man. Look, I think he had had a history of working for civil rights, as a defense attorney, as a civil rights attorney. But I think, ultimately, he’s a Democratic politician who looks for consensus. And I think a lot of the consensus in Washington, unfortunately, centers around corporations, around, let’s say, expanding access for oil drilling, around passing agreements like the TPP. You know, Kaine has spoken a lot about how he worked with sort of Catholic missionaries in Latin America, and yet, when he was governor, you know, he was an advocate for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, you know, an agreement that rewarded the country where the largest number of trade unionists are killed every single year.

So I think that Kaine, you know, has a history that, in some ways, I think, we can be proud of, in terms of some of his accomplishments, but I think, at the same time, he’s often reached over to the other side of the aisle to corporate interests that just are opposed to what the public wants. And I think, by picking him, Clinton did signal that she isn’t—she isn’t going to be very tough on these issues, regardless of what she says during this campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: The Republican National Committee released an ad yesterday attacking Tim Kaine’s record as a public defender.

SEN. TIM KAINE: When you want to know something about the character of somebody in public life, look to see if they have a passion that began long before they were in office and that they have consistently held it throughout their career.

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE AD: Long before Tim Kaine was in office, he consistently protected the worst kinds of people. Lem Tuggle raped, sodomized and murdered Jessie Geneva Havens, after being paroled for murdering a 17-year-old girl. Tim Kaine defended him. Richard Lee Whitley sexually assaulted and murdered his elderly neighbor. Tim Kaine defended him. Outside Whitley’s execution, Tim Kaine said, “Something personal in me will die with Whitley.” Percy Walton brutally murdered three people. As governor, Tim Kaine commuted his sentence, citing concerns disproved by the courts. Jens Söring and his girlfriend murdered Derek and Nancy Haysom, stabbing them to death in their home. On his last day as governor, Tim Kaine tried to have Söring sent to Germany, where parole would have been possible in just two years. Tim Kaine, he has a passion for defending the wrong people. America deserves better.

AMY GOODMAN: So that is the ad against Tim Kaine. Zaid Jilani, you’ve written all about this. Can you talk about this case?

ZAID JILANI: Well, it’s really interesting. You know, this ad, I think, is a throwback from the GOP to where Americans were just terrified of crime, when they wanted to see harsher punishments and harsher brutality by the state, regardless of whether it actually does offer humane and sort of lasting rehabilitation to the victims of crime. One of the cases mentioned in this ad, Percy Walton, was an individual who was given a state psychiatric evaluation. He told his relatives he was Jesus. He had an IQ of, I think, 66. He was declared very heavily mentally incompetent and schizophrenic, and therefore Tim Kaine basically commuted his sentence to life without parole. And I think, you know, that ad, on the one hand, is just very horrible. It sort of creates a case where we should be—they’re basically advocating for executing the mentally ill, which is just an atrocious thing, to begin with.

But I think the other interesting thing here is that Kaine himself is far from an abolitionist. Just as he has personal Catholic, sort of Catholic-inspired opposement—opposition to abortion, he has similar opposition to the death penalty, yet he didn’t really act on those principles when he was governor. He oversaw 11 sort of capital punishment cases. And I believe this was the only one that he ended up commuting. So, I think, actually, it’s an interesting case where Republicans are attacking Democrats for being too soft or too left-wing, when the reality is the Democrat they’re attacking was not at all left-wing on this issue, despite his own personal convictions on it. And, unfortunately, I think that this sort of politics is what ends up boxing people in, and often politicians give into it.

But, you know, it’s interesting to note that right now Americans are actually seeing a surge in opposition to the death penalty. A majority of self-declared Democrats oppose the death penalty. And I think it’s time for politicians to start getting on the right side of this issue and stop being one of the only countries left in the world, particularly only developed countries, that utilizes this practice, which, honestly, does not bring any justice to the victims and needlessly takes human lives.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Lee Fang, could you talk a little bit more about Mike Pence, his ties to the Koch brothers, why you think Trump chose him, and why some expressed happiness—I mean, in other words, thought that Trump’s chances were greatly enhanced by his choice?

LEE FANG: Yes, sure. You know, I just want to underscore something that Zaid just said, because it’s very similar to the dynamic that we see with Mike Pence. Just as Hillary Clinton wanted to reassure the lobbyists and big business community in D.C. with this selection of Tim Kaine, who’s very close to the donor community, especially through his time as chairman of the DNC—he got close to many of the big donors in America—Mike Pence has been a very, very close confidant of some of the largest donors that have been close to the Republican Party. Well before the Koch brothers became a household name in 2009 and 2010, Mike Pence had been donating with them—or, have been—excuse me—attending their donor meetings, that they held twice annual secretive events, where they bring together Republican billionaires and multimillionaires to fund the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Mike Pence has been a big player in those meetings, going very far back. And he’s also been close to the Republican K Street community, to the large lobbying institutions and lobbying firms in D.C., when he was a member of the House. And when he moved on and became the governor of Indiana, he also helped spearhead big money fundraising efforts for the Republican Governors Association. So, Mike Pence has a finger in the religious right, which is well documented, but he also has his finger on the pulse of the donor community. And so, many think that Donald Trump selecting Mike Pence was a smoke signal to the Republican establishment, reminding them that he’s on their side.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And so, what are the key things on which they disagree, Trump and Pence?

LEE FANG: Well, I mean, there are—the main issue where they disagree, where you see the most friction, is, of course, trade. Mike Pence not only, as I mentioned, voted for every trade agreement before him in Congress, but he also praised NAFTA, which came before his time in Congress. So, I would say that is the largest area of disagreement.

But, you know, for other areas, it’s tough to say, because Donald Trump has been all over the map. Mike Pence, for example, has opposed women in the military. He’s criticized HIV/AIDS funding, Planned Parenthood funding. He’s, you know, been a very far-right voice on abortion rights. Donald Trump has been all over the map on those issues. And depending on the day, he’s been in lockstep agreement with Mike Pence, but on other days he’s in complete disagreement, because he’s supported in favor—or, he’s voiced in favor of these issues.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Zaid Jilani, the difference between Pence and Trump on the issue of war? I mean, Congressman Pence, before he was governor, not only supported the Iraq War but was a co-sponsor of the Iraq War resolution. How do they work this out?

ZAID JILANI: Well, I think also another thing to add about Pence is that when the war was actually taking place, at some point many people had turned against it. And he actually showed up in a market, I believe in a suburb of Baghdad, and he said something like, “Oh, this is—you know, this is safer than—this is just like a market back home,” or something like that. And there had been a bombing there, you know, some weeks prior. So, Pence actually dug in very, very harshly into supporting the war.

And in terms of how he clashes with Trump, I mean, I think a big part of it is just that Donald Trump picked someone that was basically in the conventional Republican mold. And Trump obviously, you know, isn’t, in many ways, including with the Iraq War, where he did make some sort of offhanded remarks saying that he was OK with the war when it began, but he’s very quickly turned against it within a matter of few months. And he spent a lot of the primary actually excoriated George W. Bush and, basically, the war doctrine that he pursued.

And then, I think, you know, a big part of what Mike Pence’s role is to do is to assure traditional Republicans that, hey, if you are a traditional conservative, if you’re Republican, if you don’t like social liberalism like Trump does, or if you like war, like, you know, Trump says he doesn’t like, you can still vote for us, because we have Pence on the ticket. And I think—you know, just as Lee said, I think that’s what they’re trying to do, at least what the RNC is trying to do. I think that Trump, you know, goes off and riffs on whatever he wants to every day. His strategy is basically a joyride. But I think what Pence says is very well scripted by the RNC, by the consultant class and by lobbyists. And I think, you know, that’s the good cop, bad cop routine that they have with the Republican base right now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Lee Fang, I want to ask you about the significance of the vice-presidential debate generally. You mentioned earlier that 40 percent of Americans in a recent poll couldn’t name either of the two major vice-presidential candidates. So could you say something about that?

LEE FANG: Yeah, it’s really unfortunate. CBS News had a poll out this morning showing that more than 40 percent couldn’t name either running mate. And so, I think the problem here will be twofold. One, that, simply put, this debate will be an echo chamber for each candidate to basically regurgitate kind of attack lines on the top of the ticket, so, you know, Pence attacking Clinton and Kaine attacking Trump, and making it very personal. And the other issue is that because there’s so little scrutiny on the backgrounds of either candidate, because the press and the public hasn’t given them much attention, that leaves even less time for a focus on the issues. Just like the first presidential debate, where we didn’t see a really kind of detailed discussion of many of the pressing policy issues before voters and before Congress, from privacy to student debt to climate change, we won’t really see that in the debate tonight, just because the incentives are so high for both candidates to just try to throw out some attack lines that will be picked out—picked up by the media and repeated tomorrow morning.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Lee Fang of The Intercept, as well as Zaid Jilani of The Intercept, two reporters, speaking to us from San Francisco and Washington. And we’re going to be doing this roundtable discussion with people around the country until just about 9:00, just after 9:00, when the debate begins in Virginia between the two main vice-presidential candidates. We will play you that debate, but we’re going to pause the tape after they each get to answer each question, so that we can break the sound barrier, we can expand the debate, to include major—a major third-party candidate. We invited William Weld of the Libertarian Party; they didn’t respond to our invitation. But the Green Party did. And Ajamu Baraka, the vice-presidential candidate, will be joining us from a studio in Richmond, Virginia. This is what democracy sounds like. This is what democracy looks like. And you’ll hear this interaction in real time.

But before that debate, before we go to Virginia, we’re talking about the issues of the day, what’s been happening in this country and around the world. In a few minutes, we’ll be joined by Andrew Bacevich, whose son fought in Iraq, who’s a—who was a soldier himself and a professor of military affairs. But I want to turn now to Donald Trump’s speech on Saturday in Manheim, Pennsylvania. This is just a small excerpt.

DONALD TRUMP: And you’ve got to go out. You’ve got to go out, and you’ve got to get your friends, and you’ve got to get everybody you know. And you got to watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania, certain areas. I hear too many bad stories. And we can’t lose an election because of—you know what I’m talking about. So go and vote, and then go check out areas, because a lot of bad things happen, and we don’t want to lose for that reason. We don’t want to lose, but we especially—we don’t want to lose for that reason. So go over and watch. And watch carefully.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Donald Trump this weekend. Katherine Franke is chair of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Congratulations on your 50th anniversary.


AMY GOODMAN: CCR’s 50th anniversary. She also is a professor of law at Columbia Law School, directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia. Respond to what Donald Trump said.

KATHERINE FRANKE: I think this is clear dog whistle politics. Donald Trump is making a call to his constituents or to his supporters to show up and intimidate voters across the country. And I have to say, some of my work is in the 19th century racial history in this country, and the same kind of calls went out to the Klan in the immediate post-Civil War period: “Show up. Keep an eye on those people. They’re lawless. They’re not to be trusted.” And I think that’s very much what we’re hearing now, is a call to militias and others to step in and intimidate voters.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Naila Awan, your response?

NAILA AWAN: Yeah, I mean, I think that that was spot on. You know, across the country, people are having their right to vote threatened. You know, this is an instance where we could see a lot of at-the-poll challenges in Pennsylvania, if people heed Donald Trump’s call, and that could threaten individuals being able to exercise their right to vote. You know, parallel to that, at the same time, you’re seeing groups across the country aggressively trying to purge individuals from the voter rolls. A lot of groups, like the American Civil Rights Union—not to be mistook for the American Civil Liberties Union—the Public Interest Legal Foundation and Judicial Watch, and they’re going into counties and trying get them to remove people from the rolls. It’s happening across the country, and it’s something that we really have to watch out for this election.

AMY GOODMAN: Naila, you’re a civil and human rights lawyer at Demos. Talk about the states you have been looking at and this issue of voter participation, who gets to vote, who doesn’t, and the crackdowns around this.

NAILA AWAN: Sure. I mean, I think that, you know, one of the most troubling things in this election is this is the first presidential election after Shelby County v. Holder, after Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has basically been dismantled. And you’ve seen a lot of states imposing things like same-day—or eliminating same-day registration, cutting early voting periods, particularly evening and weekend hours, which low-income populations and people of color have disproportionately used and relied on to be able to cast their ballot, imposing things like voter ID and also then, you know, like I mentioned before, voter purges.

Some of the states that we’ve been working in, specifically, include Ohio. We have a case there, where hundreds of thousands of infrequent voters were purged from the voter rolls last year. And a lot of those voters turned out to vote last November and this March. Last November, pot was on the ballot; it brought a lot of infrequent voters out. This March’s primary obviously brought a lot of infrequent voters out. And those individuals found out for the first time, when they turned up to vote, that their names were no longer on the registration rolls.

AMY GOODMAN: Who purged them.

NAILA AWAN: They were purged by a—pursuant to a directive issued by the secretary of state, by the counties in Ohio.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I’d like to bring in Andrew Bacevich, who has just joined us in Boston, retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. His latest book is titled America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. So, Professor Bacevich, could you comment—you, last month, attended the Commander-in-Chief Forum, which took place on the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier. Could you tell us what happened at that forum and what that tells you about the way in which foreign policy and national security issues are being talked about in this campaign season?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it was a—it was a great missed opportunity, because the moderated interviews, first with Hillary Clinton and then with Donald Trump, basically were a waste of time. The candidates were never asked the sorts of questions that Americans need to hear about with regard to national security. So, for example, there was no discussion of President Obama’s planned trillion-dollar modernization of our nuclear arsenal, whether or not that’s a good idea, bad idea, necessary, inflammatory. There was no discussion about what we might learn from our post-9/11 wars in the greater Middle East, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, but not limited to those two. Those wars have obviously been unsuccessful. What should we learn from them? And how would those lessons apply to either a Trump administration or a Clinton administration going forward? So, again, I think it was a—really, a terrible missed opportunity.

AMY GOODMAN: One thing that wasn’t commented on—this was an NBC forum, Matt Lauer was the moderator—was even that this discussion about foreign policy took place on a warship, you know, in the New York Harbor. I mean, even for the military and veterans, isn’t the military the last resort, really the failure of civilization not to be able to resolve its problems? But to hold it on the Intrepid, your thoughts on this, Professor Bacevich?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, you’re making a very good point. And, of course, our politicians do ritually talk about the military being a last resort, but any examination of U.S. policy, not simply since the end of the Cold War—or, since the end of—since 9/11, but, I think, more broadly, since the end of the Cold War, would suggest otherwise, that the military has become the preferred option as far as American statecraft is concerned. Why? Because of expectations in Washington, shared by both parties, shared by both of these two presidential candidates, that, somehow or other, military power offers the most effective way to achieve our purposes.

And this notion persists despite the accumulation of evidence that suggests otherwise. I mean, the evidence suggests that the American reliance on American military power has been enormously costly, both in terms of lives lost, lives shattered, dollars wasted, with very little to show in terms of positive results. But it’s—I think it’s really tragic and a judgment on our politics that these—these accumulating military failures simply don’t get the kind of scrutiny that they deserve, even here—even here in the middle of a presidential election.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Professor Bacevich, you mentioned earlier that there was no discussion of nuclear issues at that forum on the USS Intrepid. But you’ve also written a piece on the first presidential debate and the failure of both Trump and Clinton to respond to a very specific question that the moderator, Lester Holt, addressed to them about the long-standing U.S. policy on first use. So, can you say exactly what happened when that question was posed last week?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Yeah, sure. So, this is—this is Lester Holt, who moderated in the first direct debate between the two candidates. And he asked a question that basically said the following: President Obama has been considering a change to the U.S. policy on nuclear first use; do you agree with the current policy? And this gets into a little bit of nuclear theology, because first use has a very specific meaning in that context. And what it means is that the United States, for decades now, has adhered to a policy that basically says we will not restrict our use of nuclear weapons to responding to a nuclear weapons attack. That restriction is called no first use. It will only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear weapons attack.

So, Obama supposedly thought about changing this policy, decided not to. Lester Holt wanted to know what the two candidates thought. He asked Trump first, and Trump’s meandering answer basically suggested that he, Trump, had no idea about what the phrase “first use” means. That’s troubling. When the question then was tossed to Secretary Clinton, she basically changed the subject. She avoided any discussion of U.S. nuclear policy and U.S. nuclear strategy. And again, to me, this—their failure to address Lester Holt’s question in a serious way robbed the American people of an opportunity to reflect on one of these core issues related to U.S. nuclear strategy.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, can you also outline—you’ve explicitly stated some of your concerns about Trump’s foreign policy positions, to the extent that you can identify any consistency on them, in particular, on Iraq and his comments about how the U.S. should have taken the oil, etc., and also Clinton’s foreign policy, her tenure as secretary of state, her position on Libya, her subsequent defense of her position on Libya, and what that might indicate about the position she’s likely to take, if she becomes president, on Syria, on ISIS, etc.?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think, frankly, it’s impossible for us to gauge what a Trump foreign policy would look like. He is, by and large, uninformed. He’s strategically illiterate. He knows as much about national security policy as I know about running a business. And what I know about running a business is next to nothing.

And the problem, I think—one of the problems with our—with the media coverage of the campaign, the way the mainstream media has covered it, is that the appalling prospect of a Trump presidency has caused the campaign to be about Trump, the imperative of revealing simply how ill-prepared he is for the office, of revealing how uncouth he is, his sketchy relationship with truth, and therefore the discussion of the campaign hasn’t really admitted any debate, serious debate, over what—over the national security issues that we really do confront.

As for Secretary Clinton, it seems to me she is very much a mainstream, hawkish, liberal internationalist. The most significant aspect of her tenure as secretary of state, in my judgment, is certainly not the Benghazi episode, but was her support for the intervention in Libya to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, which succeeded in doing that and basically turned Libya into a failed state that was not—then became subject to a new jihadist franchise. Her record very much deserves close examination. My own sense is that if she becomes president—and I expect that she will become president—is that we will find very little change in the trajectory of U.S. policy, in the excessive militarization of U.S. policy. I see very little indication that she has the sort of creative intellect that will lead her to ask serious questions about that trajectory. And we’re going to get more of the same, and more of the same is not good enough.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, very quickly, before we wrap, Professor Bacevich, could you just outline some of the questions—you were critical of the mainstream media—the questions that you think the candidates should have been asked on foreign policy? You mentioned a couple on nuclear issues. What about the others?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think—I think one question is—has to do with the—what is the authorization, what is the authority, under which the president continues to conduct our wars in the greater Middle East, specifically the new war in Iraq against ISIS and U.S. involvement in the civil war in Syria? Nominally, the authorization is the document that was passed by the Congress in the immediate wake of 9/11. That document said that the president was authorized to go after parties that perpetrated 9/11. Obviously, the Assad regime didn’t perpetrate 9/11. ISIS didn’t perpetrate 9/11. It didn’t exist at the time. So I think we really ought to have a serious discussion over who says that we should be at war and why doesn’t the Congress exercise any serious voice in that regard, as the Constitution of the United States calls for. That would be one very important question, I think, that deserves to be at the forefront of this discussion.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of Syria—I wanted to bring Katherine Franke into this discussion. And this goes to the vice-presidential candidates, particularly to what’s happening in Indiana. And then I wanted to get Professor Bacevich’s response to this. Syrian refugees and what’s taking place now, the effects of what’s taking place, the horror, the catastrophe of Syria today, and what the U.S. is doing about it?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, in particular, what Mike Pence has done about it is, as governor of the state of Indiana, he has issued a ruling saying that he will not allow any Syrians to be placed in the state of Indiana—with federal money, I would say. So, the states receive substantial grants from the federal government to aid in the resettlement of refugees, including Syrians. And the president has said that we will bring in a great number of Syrians.

This policy was challenged by a resettlement group in Indiana that works with, among other people, Syrians. And a judge, a local judge in—a federal court judge in Indiana enjoined the policy, saying that this was unfair and discriminatory. And just yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals—not a liberal circuit, by any means, and all three of those judges very conservative—Judge Posner, Judge Easterbrook and Diane Sykes, who is, by the way, on Donald Trump’s list of possible Supreme Court nominees—found—upheld the lower court’s injunction and said that this is absolutely discriminatory to say that we will not admit into our state people from one national origin or from one country on the absolutely fabricated claim that they would be terrorists.

And one of the things that, if I can read for a second what Judge Posner said, which was just so spot on, is that the argument made by Mike Pence’s lawyers is the equivalent of saying “that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they’re black but because he’s afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn’t discriminating.” That’s essentially what Mike Pence is saying: “I don’t hate Syrians. I’m just afraid of them.” So, a three-judge panel has overturned that ruling, and Syrians can now be settled in Indiana.

AMY GOODMAN: At the same time, Texas officially withdrew from the refugee resettlement program, isn’t that right, Governor Abbott?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, they can withdraw altogether, and the state cannot facilitate the resettlement of people. But the local resettlement groups, the private groups that do this, can apply for federal money and basically go around the states that are obstructing this settlement. But Indiana took the money from the federal government and then said, “But we’re afraid and are prepared to discriminate against Syrians.”

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back, before we say goodbye to Professor Bacevich, to the comments of Donald Trump about veterans struggling with PTSD. He was asked about the issue during an event with veterans in Herndon, Virginia. And this is just getting some attention now.

VETERAN: When you become president, will you support and fund a more—more holistic approach to solve the problems and issues of veteran suicide, PTSD, TBI and other related military mental and behavioral health issues? And will you take steps to restore the historic role of our chaplains and the importance of spiritual fitness and spiritual resiliency programs?

DONALD TRUMP: Yes, I would. Look, we need that so badly. And when you—when you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.

AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Bacevich, your response to Donald Trump?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, he never misses a chance to shoot himself in the foot. And once again, clearly, he’s rendering a judgment about a subject that he really knows nothing about. I am not an expert in combat fatigue, in PTSD. But my general understanding is that each of us, as individuals, has a certain capacity to absorb stress, and that once, as individuals, that capacity is expended, is used up, that we are, as individuals, susceptible then to PTSD-like symptoms. But this is not a matter of a judgment of character, of strength or weakness. So he was totally out of line. And, you know, it’s certainly not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time, that he says something that is so remarkably stupid.

AMY GOODMAN: And on the issue of refugees, we see right now in France they’re trying to dismantle the—what’s called “The Jungle,” where thousands of refugees from throughout the Middle East come to try to get in to make their way into Britain. Democracy Now! was there just in December. And the desperation of people from Afghanistan, from Somalia, from Iraq, from Syria—a map of the U.S. bombing targets. It is just astounding to see this massive crisis of refugees that we haven’t seen since World War II. What is our responsibility? And what do you want to hear the candidates, both tonight with both Pence and Kaine, and also the—of course, the presidential candidates, Clinton and Trump?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, I would certainly never defend Governor Pence’s policy, which I would view as utterly reprehensible. I’m not sure that I would agree that the Obama administration has covered itself with glory here. If I’m not mistaken, the president had promised to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees, and we just now reached that goal. He promises to admit more. But 10,000 is a drop in the bucket.

To the extent that we have a moral responsibility—and I believe we do, because of the contribution we have made to creating the mess that is the Middle East today—then it seems to me that the example of Angela Merkel is one that we should reflect upon. Germany has admitted a million refugees. A smaller country with a smaller population has admitted a vastly larger number of refugees. Maybe a million isn’t the right number, but the current administration and we, collectively, the American people, could do far, far more than we have done up to this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Andrew Bacevich, we want to thank you for being with us, retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. His latest book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. Previous books include Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. He’s professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University, lost his son to war in Iraq a few years ago.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. This is a Democracy Now! “Expanding the Debate” special. In just over 15 minutes, we’ll be going down to Virginia to join the debate that we’ll—we will bring you in full of the major-party vice-presidential candidates, Tim Kaine and Governor Pence. We will pause the tape after each of them answer questions to bring in a third-party candidate, the Green Party’s vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, to break the sound barrier, to challenge the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is run by the Republicans and Democrats, that have iced out the major-party—third-party candidates. We also invited former Governor William Wells, the Libertarian vice-presidential candidate, on, but the Libertarian Party did not respond to our invitation. But we’re going to continue on with our roundtable discussion.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So let’s talk now about Indiana’s highly controversial anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Speaking to ABC News in March 2015, Governor Mike Pence said both Hillary Clinton and President Obama have supported versions of the so-called religious freedom law, as have 19 other states besides Indiana.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American. After that, some 19 states followed that, adopted that statute. And after last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then state Senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois, before our Legislature. And I was proud to sign it into law last week.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And then Indiana Governor Mike Pence went on to defend the law in the name of tolerance.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Is tolerance a two-way street or not? I mean, you know, there’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country today, having to do with people on the left. And—but here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith and families of faith in our state, and this avalanche of intolerance has been poured on our state. It’s just outrageous.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So that’s Mike Pence. Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU, could you comment on what he said?

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah. Well, thank you both for having me. And it is—it’s always remarkable to hear Pence try to speak publicly defending his policies in Indiana, I think. You know, this is a perfect example of him desperately trying to publicly explain that this law is not a targeted law at the LGBT community, while at the same time getting support from the most hostile anti-gay, anti-trans individuals within the state, and then having them by his side in a private signing ceremony, while at the same time trying to cast this law as just about a two-way street of tolerance, when in reality he has been, for his entire career and probably his entire public life, absolutely, you know, fixated on extremely anti-gay and anti-trans positions.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain what happened with this law, exactly what transpired in Indiana.

CHASE STRANGIO: So, in Indiana, the Legislature passed, at the backing of Governor Pence, as well, who was governor at the time, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was very much in response to the fact that there was growing support for marriage equality across the country. And so they passed this law. He went on to defend it, in the face of extreme opposition, extreme loss of business support within the state, sports endorsements, the NCAA. He went on to—

AMY GOODMAN: Angie’s List was what?


AMY GOODMAN: Headquartered in Indianapolis.


AMY GOODMAN: They said they wouldn’t do their $40 million expansion.

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah, Salesforce—so, all of these companies speaking out. You know, and as I’ve said before, you know, having this corporate opposition is important, and it did ultimately lead to a so-called fix of the Indiana RFRA law.

I think it’s worth noting, though, that this conversation, in general, sort of eclipses some of the more urgent conversation about LGBT rights, because we focus on the extremity of Pence’s position, and we sort of lose sight of the reality that across both parties we’re seeing a limited effort to really engage in the survival needs of the LGBTQ community. And so, as important as this was, and as much backlash as Pence faced, and as much loss there was to the economy of Indiana—and all of that is certainly important—the reality is that this conversation is also itself a distraction, because we’re sort of fixating on this question while sort of losing sight of the real needs of the community.

AMY GOODMAN: But what was so interesting about Pence and these positions that he took, truly extreme positions—the establishment business community was fierce, and, as you said, the sports community, as well—is that he is portrayed very much as the moderate right now, as this sort of moderate force that is reining in Donald Trump.

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah, yeah, I think it depends how you sort of categorize “moderate,” because, you know, we see over and over again we have Trump out there in these sort of hyperbolic, extreme ways, but, of course, in many ways, when it comes to, you know, social issues—abortion, LGBT rights—Pence was very much brought in as the extreme candidate to appease the establishment within the base of the Republican Party. So, it’s hard to really cast him as—

AMY GOODMAN: And to appease evangelicals and conservative Christians.

CHASE STRANGIO: And to appease evangelicals and conservatives. So it’s really hard to cast him as a moderate in any real sense when it comes to issues like that.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Katherine Franke, your response to Mike Pence and what he said as governor?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, the religious liberty bill was just the next iteration of a number of extremely conservative bills that went through the Indiana Legislature that Governor Pence signed and that he was really advocating for. He signed the most draconian anti-abortion bills in the country—one every term of his governorship. He is held up as the model for the anti-choice movement of what it means to legislate against Roe v. Wade and against women’s reproductive rights.

And I just want to stress about this religious liberty bill out in Indiana, it’s been labeled as an anti-LGBT bill, which it certainly was, and I think dislike, hatred, animus towards LGBT people and backlash against same-sex marriage motivated the bill, but on its own terms it reached a wide range of issues, including reproductive rights, including gender discrimination, including race discrimination. And even the fix that was made in the bill would allow a religious employer to fire an interracial couple or to refuse to allow women to get contraception as part of the health plan, in the name of religion. So the fix fixed a couple of things, but the bill still allows religion to be invoked as a way to justify what we would otherwise consider a violation of fundamental rights, by pharmacists, employers, landlords, a whole range of people.

AMY GOODMAN: Mike Pence is governor now, but when he was congressman, we want to turn to a clip from a speech he gave at a Values Voter Summit in 2010.

REP. MIKE PENCE: To those who say that marriage is not relevant to our budget crisis, I say you would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government that you would need if the family continues to collapse. To those who say we should focus on cutting spending, I say, “OK. Let’s start by denying all federal funding for abortion at home and abroad.” … You want to find savings, let’s cut funding to research that destroys human embryos in the name of science, and let’s deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America.

AMY GOODMAN: So that was Mike Pence as congressman in 2010. Professor Katherine Franke, what happened since then, and what is his position today around the whole issue of Planned Parenthood?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Well, as governor, he cut all of the money, the funding, to Planned Parenthood in the state of Indiana, and it resulted in the closing of all of their clinics. What resulted from that? Since these clinics did reproductive rights work, certainly, and family planning work, certainly, but they also did HIV testing and counseling—and as a result of the closing of these—of the Planned Parenthood clinics, the HIV rate, infection rate, skyrocketed in Indiana. And this was in—all over the news. And so, the anti-abortion crusade has a ripple effect much farther out beyond just the issue of abortion itself.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Chase Strangio, I want to ask you—you talked earlier about what you referred to as the survival needs of the LGBT communities and how this focus on Mike Pence is kind of distracting from problems within both parties. So, could you—could you elaborate on that? What were you referring to?

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah, I mean, first, I do—I want to pick up what Professor Franke said about the HIV epidemic, and it is true that in Indiana there has been an escalation of rates of infection, and it’s absolutely catastrophic. And we see—you know, I’m not optimistic, overall, about efforts to end the decriminalization of HIV, for example, and really have the federal government take a leadership role. And this is something that’s critically important to the LGBT community.

But even more so, I think, because of the extreme positions of Governor Pence, that we haven’t had a conversation, and we haven’t pushed the conversation, about, you know, to what extent are both parties going to make sure that they’re not only going to continue the Obama administration’s position about protecting trans people under existing nondiscrimination law, but really expand those protections in the context of prison, in the context of policing, make sure that we’re really seeing LGBT issues, not just about the formal equality that we talk about with the Equality Act, but all of the issues that we’ve discussed, with access to voting, with access, you know, to be free from police profiling. And because we’re sort of fixating on the extreme positions of Pence, I think we’re losing sight of some of the important conversations that implicate our communities.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, when we last had you on, Chase, we were talking about North Carolina, and a lot is being made of the fact that Donald Trump doesn’t have many surrogates to go out on the campaign trail the way that Hillary Clinton does. I think today Bill Clinton was out. Chelsea Clinton was out. President Obama has been campaigning for her. And today Michelle Obama was in both Charlotte and also in Raleigh, campaigning for Hillary Clinton. North Carolina, of course, right near where the debate will be. Talk about what’s happening there and the significance of North Carolina as a microcosm, and what you also want to hear Tim Kaine say tonight.

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah, I mean, we have in North Carolina a serious question over the issue of transgender rights. You know, the Legislature there passed HB 2, the anti-trans and, much broader, anti-LGBT law, anti-worker law. And now we have, you know, obviously, Trump incoherently defending it and then Pence very much backing it. And it is a question—

AMY GOODMAN: Known as the bathroom bill.

CHASE STRANGIO: Known as the bathroom bill, but doing—having a broader range of consequences and really, you know, implicating the survival of trans people, trans people not being able to go to the bathroom, trans people being profiled in the street, being expelled from public life. And I think that, you know, we have a lot of people out there saying they oppose HB 2. We have corporations withdrawing support from North Carolina. But what we haven’t had is necessarily a conversation about the extent to which the candidates are really going to stand behind—and I don’t expect Pence or Trump to do this—but the vulnerable trans young people who are really out there taking their own lives at incredibly high rates.

And so, we’re, at the ACLU, challenging HB 2, litigating this case, you know, Governor McCrory’s law, but at the same time we really want to have a broader conversation and say, “Well, yes, we want the government to expand protections, we want to stop these anti-trans laws from happening, but you have to uphold these policies in prisons and jails. You have to hold true to your word for the most vulnerable members of our community, who are literally being profiled as sex workers on the street, who are taking their own lives and who are dying.” And so, I really hope that we have not just these, you know, pleasantries and formalities about what it means to care about trans people or, you know, expand protections of Title IX, as important as that is, but really address the realities of the epidemics of violence and suicide in the community.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Katherine Franke, can you say a little about Tim Kaine and, in particular, his Catholicism, in the context of positions he’s taken both on abortion and the death penalty?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Yeah, it’s such an interesting question. Both of these vice-presidential candidates profess, sincerely, to be devout Christians—Mike Pence, a evangelical Protestant, and Tim Kaine, a Catholic.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, Mike Pence famously said, “I am a Christian, I’m a conservative, and I’m a Republican—in that order.”

KATHERINE FRANKE: “In that order,” that’s right. And what I think we’re seeing in these two candidates are two faces of Christianity in this country, one with Mike Pence, where Christianity is really being weaponized as a way to justify a range of discrimination, small-minded, mean, xenophobic thinking, and in the case of Tim Kaine, a different kind of Christianity, what I would call a more catholic way—with a little C—of thinking faith and thinking brotherly love, if you will, a Christianity of compassion, of care, of responsibility to those who are the weakest. You may remember that when he was in law school, he left for a year and went to Honduras to do volunteer work there. You know, if one my students said they would like to do that at Columbia, I would welcome it, whether they were Catholic or not. But I think Tim Kaine’s Catholicism runs very deep for him as a sense of—out of a sense of responsibility and public service. And what I see in Mike Pence is the way in which religion passes as a justification for thinking the world in old-fashioned, perhaps, ways that never existed before, but in narrow-minded ways and often hateful ways. And it’s a—it’s a real contrast between the two. Now, Kaine does say that in his own personal faith he’s opposed to abortion and he’s also opposed to the death penalty, but he also says that as a public official, as an elected official, his obligation is to abide by the law and the Constitution. I don’t see that from Mike Pence.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to be going in a moment to the big debate in Virginia. But, Naila Awan, right now Haiti is being slammed by this massive hurricane, Matthew. You spent time dealing with post-earthquake Haiti. Imagine people still in their makeshift camps and what they’re being hit with now. You also deal with climate change. And can you talk about how little these issues are being really raised right now?

NAILA AWAN: Yeah, you know, I think that, with respect to like Haiti, we went in right when the earthquake initially happened, and people gave relief, and then it kind of went off everyone’s radar.

AMY GOODMAN: And President Clinton was one who really spearheaded that as a post-president.

NAILA AWAN: Right. And I mean, you know, no one was talking about kind of the gender-based violence that was occurring in the camps, the fact that they weren’t secure, the fact that aid workers were using like jobs and other forms of aid for survival sex. And I don’t think that those issues have been addressed in the—to the extent that they should have. So, when you look at potentially having more problems on top of what already is occurring there and what still has not been fully remedied, you know, unless we start thinking about how to properly provide international aid and like putting structural mechanisms in place to make sure that there aren’t abuses of power and that the women and children and like members of the LGBT community, too, there, who had also been, you know, disproportionately harmed by different acts of violence, are protected, then I think we’re going to be kind of in the same situation and further exacerbating those problems.

AMY GOODMAN: Five weeks away from the election—


AMY GOODMAN: —what advice do you have for voters here in the United States?

NAILA AWAN: I mean, what I can say is like get out and vote, right? Like, that is the best advice I have. You know, there are numerous issues occurring around the country, where people’s—

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, people are voting now in places like Vermont and other states. They’re already voting.

NAILA AWAN: Right, exactly, early voting has already started in some states. It’s starting next week in Ohio. But there is a chance, you know, like what I said about the purges, that people might go to the rolls and find—go to the polls and find out that their names are no longer on the rolls. Or, you know, there might be at-the-poll challenge in some Pennsylvania—I think people have to demand provisional ballots if they find that their names aren’t on the rolls, because that’s the only chance that your name—your vote’s even going to count. And there’s a high likelihood that, you know, when you go to the polls, if you encounter problems and if there are long lines, that people might turn away. But I think that people just really have to go out there and affirmatively say, if they’re being denied their right to vote, “Give me a provisional ballot.” And if they are able to cast a ballot, like take advantage of whatever opportunities are available, whether they’re evening, weekend hours or Election Day.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to leave it there now, because the debate is about to begin. We want to thank you, Naila Awan, joining us, a human rights lawyer from Demos. I want to thank Chase Strangio for being with us, lawyer with the ACLU. Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia University, a professor of law at Columbia Law School, directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. And the title of your book, Katherine?

KATHERINE FRANKE: Thank you. Wedlocked: The Perils of Marriage Equality. Another show.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll—we’ll have you back on to discuss that. But right now, we’re going to turn to the vice-presidential candidates, Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine, just minutes away from facing off at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, in their first and only debate before next month’s election. Pence, again, the governor of Indiana, former congressman from there; Tim Kaine, the junior senator from Virginia and Virginia’s former governor. He was also mayor of Richmond. Elaine Quijano of CBS News will be moderating the debate.

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. Tonight we’ll air the vice-presidential debate live and expand the debate by giving a major third-party candidate a chance to respond to the same questions. The Green Party’s Ajamu Baraka will join us live for this entire debate. The Libertarian vice-presidential candidate, William Weld, did not respond to our invitation.

Ajamu Baraka is a longtime human rights activist. He’s 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. For years, Baraka has led efforts by the U.S. Human Rights Network to challenge police brutality and racism in the United States.

The debate begins now.

ELAINE QUIJANO: … 2016, sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. I’m Elaine Quijano, anchor at CBSN and correspondent for CBS News. It’s an honor to moderate this debate between Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence. Both are longtime public servants who are also proud fathers of sons serving in the U.S. Marines.

The campaigns have agreed to the rules of this 90-minute debate. There will be nine different segments, covering domestic and foreign policy issues. Each segment will begin with a question to both candidates, who will each have two minutes to answer. Then I’ll ask follow-up questions to facilitate a discussion between the candidates. By coin toss, it’s been determined that Senator Kaine will be first to answer the opening question.

We have an enthusiastic audience tonight. They’ve agreed to only express that enthusiasm once at the end of the debate and right now, as we welcome Governor Mike Pence and Senator Tim Kaine.

Gentlemen, welcome. It truly is a privilege to be with both of you tonight.

I’d like to start with the topic of presidential leadership. Twenty-eight years ago tomorrow night, Lloyd Bentsen said the vice-presidential debate was not about the qualifications for the vice presidency, but about how, if tragedy should occur, the vice president has to step in without any margin for error, without time for preparation, to take over the responsibility for the biggest job in the world. What about your qualities, your skills and your temperament equip you to step into that role at a moment’s notice? Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, thank you for being here tonight, and, Governor Pence, welcome. It is so great to be back at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. This is a very special place. Sixty-five years ago, a young, courageous woman, Barbara Johns, led a walkout of her high school, Moton High School. She made history by protesting school segregation. She believed our nation was stronger together. And that walkout led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision that moved us down the path toward equality.

I am so proud to be running with another strong, history-making woman, Hillary Clinton, to be president of the United States. I’m proud because her vision of stronger together, building an economy that works for all, not just those at the top, being safe in the world not only with a strong military, but also strong alliances to battle terrorism and climate change, and also to build a community of respect, just like Barbara Johns tried to do 65 years ago. That’s why I’m so proud to be her running mate.

Hillary told me why she asked me to be her running mate. She said the test of a Clinton administration will not be the signing of a bill or the passage of a bill. It’ll be whether we can make somebody’s life better, whether we can make a classroom better learning environment for schoolkids or teachers, whether we can make a safer—it’s going to be about results.

And she said to me, “You’ve been a missionary and a civil rights lawyer. You’ve been a city councilman and mayor. You’ve been a lieutenant governor and governor, and now a U.S. senator. I think you will help me figure out how to govern this nation so that we always keep in mind that the success of the administration is the difference we make in people’s lives.”

And that’s what I bring to the ticket, that experience, having served at all levels of government. But my primary role is to be Hillary Clinton’s right-hand person and strong supporter as she puts together the most historic administration possible. And I relish that role. I’m so proud of her.

I’ll just say this: We trust Hillary Clinton—my wife and I—and we trust her with the most important thing in our life. We have a son deployed overseas in the Marine Corps right now. We trust Hillary Clinton as president and commander-in-chief. But the thought of Donald Trump as commander-in-chief scares us to death.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, first off, thank you, Elaine, and thank you to—thank you to Norwood University for their wonderful hospitality and the Commission on Presidential Debates. It’s deeply humbling for me to be here, to be surrounded by my—my wonderful family. And, Senator Kaine, it’s an honor to be here with you, as well.

And I just—I also want to say—I want to say thanks to everyone that’s looking in tonight, who understands what an enormously important time this is in the life of our nation. For the last seven-and-a-half years, we’ve seen America’s place in the world weakened. We’ve seen an economy stifled by more taxes, more regulation, a war on coal, and a failing healthcare reform, come to be known as Obamacare. And the American people know that we need to make a change. And so I want to thank all of you for being—being with us tonight.

I also want to thank Donald Trump for making that call and inviting us to be a part of this ticket. I have to tell you, I’m a—I’m a small-town boy from a place not too different from Farmville. I grew up with a cornfield in my backyard. My grandfather had immigrated to this country when he was about my son’s age. My mom and dad built a—everything that matters in a small town in southern Indiana. They built a family and a—and a good name and a business. And they raised a family. And I dreamed some day of representing my hometown in Washington, D.C. But I—honestly, Elaine, I never imagined—never imagined I’d have the opportunity to be governor of the state that I love, let alone be sitting at a table like this in this kind of a position.

So, to answer your question, I would say I—I would hope that if—if the responsibility ever fell to me in this role, that I would meet it with the way that I’m going to meet the responsibility should I be elected vice president of the United States. And that’s to bring a lifetime of experience, a lifetime growing up in a small town, a lifetime where I’ve served in the Congress of the United States, where—where I’ve led a state that works, in the great state of Indiana. And whatever other responsibilities might follow from this, I—I would hope, and, frankly, I would pray, to be able to meet that moment with that—that lifetime of experience.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, you have roughly two minutes to make your opening statement, as well.

AJAMU BARAKA: Thank you very much, Amy. It’s really an honor to have this opportunity to speak directly to the people of this country. As everyone knows, we have not had a chance to be on the stage with our presence, but we are not going to allow that to dissuade us from taking our message to the American people.

You know, leadership is a very important quality, and we have not seen much of it for quite some time here in this country. I think that, for myself, the kind of leadership that I will bring to this position is one that’s been informed by a lifetime of experience, getting a chance to see the inner workings of the government at every level from the outside looking in, which provides a critical perspective on the contradictions of this country and this government that claims to be a champion of human rights, that claims to represent certain kinds of values, who claims that it has some certain kinds of efficiencies, to see those contradictions and to be able to know what kinds of solutions we can create to deal with those contradictions.

Look, one thing we have to do about the notion of governance here in this country is to demystify it, that, basically, with the support of the people, with a sense of vision, with a sense of what is right and wrong, with an ethical framework that’s different from the dominant parties and the ruling elite, we can govern ourselves. And we have the experience to, in fact, do so.

So, I could talk about, you know, my experience in terms of running organizations, budgets, managing people, my geopolitical understanding of the world. But what’s really important is that I’m part of a movement and part of a movement that is committed to transforming this society and transforming this world.

AMY GOODMAN: Back to the moderator, Elaine Quijano.

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: So let’s go back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: There are a lot people wondering in this country about the economy.


ELAINE QUIJANO: Let’s turn to the issue of the economy.


ELAINE QUIJANO: According to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, neither of your economic plans will reduce the growing $19 trillion gross national debt. In fact, your plans would add even more to it. Both of you were governors who balanced state budgets. Are you concerned that adding more to the debt could be disastrous for the country? Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I think the fact that—that under this past administration, of which Hillary Clinton was a part, we’ve almost doubled the national debt is atrocious. I mean, I’m very proud of the fact that I come from a state that works. The state of Indiana has balanced budgets. We cut taxes, we’ve made record investments in education and in infrastructure, and I still finish my term with $2 billion in the bank.

That’s a little bit different than when Senator Kaine was governor here in Virginia. He actually—he actually tried to raise taxes by about $4 billion. He left his state about $2 billion in the hole. In the state of Indiana, we’ve cut unemployment in half; unemployment doubled when he was governor.

But I think he’s a very fitting running mate for Hillary Clinton, because in the wake of a season where American families are struggling in this economy under the weight of higher taxes and Obamacare and the war on coal and the stifling avalanche of regulation coming out of this administration, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want more of the same. It really is remarkable that they actually are advocating a trillion dollars in tax increases, which I get that. You tried to raise taxes here in Virginia and were unsuccessful. But a trillion dollars in tax increases, more regulation, more of the same war on coal and more of Obamacare, that now even former President Bill Clinton calls Obamacare a crazy plan. But Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to build on Obamacare. They want to expand it into a single-payer program. And for all the world, Hillary Clinton just thinks Obamacare is a good start.

Look, Donald Trump and I have a plan to get this economy moving again, just the way that it worked in the 1980s, just the way it worked in the 1960s, and that is by lowering taxes across the board for working families, small businesses and family farms, ending the war on coal that is hurting jobs and hurting this economy, even here in Virginia, repealing Obamacare lock, stock and barrel, and repealing all of the executive orders that Barack Obama has signed that are stifling economic growth in this economy.

We can get America moving again. Put on top of that the kind of trade deals that’ll put the American worker first, and you’ve got a prescription for real growth. And when you get the economy growing, Elaine, that’s when you can deal with the national debt. When we get back to three-and-a-half to 4 percent growth, which Donald Trump’s plan will do, then we’re going to have the resources to meet our nation’s needs at home and abroad, and we’re going to have the ability to bring down the national debt.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, on the economy, there’s a fundamental choice for the American electorate: Do you want a “you’re hired” president in Hillary Clinton, or do you want a “you’re fired” president in Donald Trump? I think that’s not such a hard choice. Hillary and I have a plan that’s on the table that’s a “you’re hired” plan, five components.

First thing we do is we invest in manufacturing, infrastructure and research in the clean energy jobs of tomorrow.

Second thing is we invest in our workforce, from pre-K education to great teachers to debt-free college and tuition-free college for families that make less than $125,000 a year.

Third, we promote fairness by raising the minimum wage, so you can’t work full-time and be under the poverty level, and by paying women equal pay for equal work.

Fourth, we promote small business growth, just as we’ve done in Virginia, to make it easier to start and grow small businesses. Hillary and I each grew up in small-business families. My dad, who ran an iron working and welding shop, is here tonight.

And, fifth, we have a tax plan that targets tax relief to middle-class individuals and small businesses and asks those at the very top, who’ve benefited as we’ve come out of recession, to pay more.

The Trump plan is a different plan. It’s a “you’re fired” plan. And there’s two key elements to it. First, Donald Trump said wages are too high. And both Donald Trump and Mike Pence think we ought to eliminate the federal minimum wage. Mike Pence, when he was in Congress, voted against raising the minimum wage above $5.15. And he has been a one-man bulwark against minimum wage increases in Indiana.

The second component of the plan is massive tax breaks for the very top, trillions of dollars of tax breaks for people just like Donald Trump. The problem with this, Elaine, is that’s exactly what we did 10 years ago, and it put the economy into the deepest recession—the deepest recession since the 1930s.

Independent analysts say the Clinton plan would grow the economy by 10-and-a-half million jobs. The Trump plan would cost three-and-a-half million jobs. And Donald Trump—why would he do this? Because his tax plan basically helps him. And if he ever met his promise and he gave his tax returns to the American public like he said he would, we would see just how much his economic plan is really a Trump-first plan.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, you’re the vice-presidential candidate of the Green Party. Talk about your and your running mate Jill Stein’s plans for the economy.

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, we believe that in order to have a just economy, we have to have an economy that’s also committed to racial justice. We believe that we have to have an economy in which there is a basic support for human rights in all of their manifestations. So we say that we have to have an economy in which a right to a job is in fact a human right, that people have a right to healthcare, that we have a right to an educational experience that will result in the full development of the human personality and our human faculties. We believe that we have to have a right to a clean environment. We believe that we have to have a dignified lifestyle, a dignified life, that is informed by the ability to live with dignity by having a adequate income. Everybody should have a guaranteed income here in this country. So we support a raise in the minimum wage. We are committed to transforming this economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels, and we are committed to a clean energy program, where we are going to produce 20 million jobs in the clean energy sector. And we believe we can do this by 2030. So we have a job—we have a program to put people back to work, to transform the economy, to have a minimum support network for people who are—who need it. We are prepared to provide federal funds to support the creation of co-ops. We have a plan that we believe will provide dignity, self-respect and independence for people. But we understand that we have to fight for this, because we see and we know that both parties are committed to the same kind of trickle-down economics, the same commitment to neoliberal globalization. They have—that has created the kinds of economic contradictions we see in the society today.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: On that point, Governor Pence, recently, 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: Well, first, let me—let me say, I appreciated the “you’re hired,” “you’re fired” thing, Senator. You use that a whole lot. And I think your running mate used a lot of pre-done lines.

Look, what—what you all just heard out there is more taxes, $2 trillion in more spending, more deficits, more debt, more government. And if you think that’s all working, then you look at the other side of the table. I mean, the truth of the matter is, the policies of this administration, which Hillary Clinton and Senator Kaine want to continue, have run this economy into a ditch. We’re in the—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Fifteen million new jobs?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Fifteen million new jobs?

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, my question was—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: There are millions more people living in poverty today than the day that Barack Obama, with Hillary Clinton at his side—

SEN. TIM KAINE: And the poverty level and the median income—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —stepped into the Oval Office. We have the lowest—look, you could—

SEN. TIM KAINE: —improved dramatically between 2014 and 2015.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Look, you—you—honestly, Senator, you can roll out the numbers and the sunny side, but I got to tell you, people in Scranton know different. People in Fort Wayne, Indiana, know different. I mean, this economy is struggling. And the answer to this economy is not more taxes.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But it’s not the giveaway tax relief to the folks at the top.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: It’s not more spending. And so, I—


SEN. TIM KAINE: I am interested in hearing whether he’ll defend his running mate’s not releasing taxes and not paying taxes.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yeah, absolutely, I will.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, with all due respect, the question was about whether it seems fair to you that Mr. Trump said he brilliantly used the laws to pay as little tax as legally possible.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, 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: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka, your response?

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: Let’s go back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

SEN. TIM KAINE: All right, we’re having fun up here.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, on the issue of Social Security, in 18 years, when the Social Security trust funds run out of money, you’ll be 76. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates your benefits could be cut by as much as $7,500 per year. What would your administration do to prevent this cut?

SEN. TIM KAINE: First, we’re going to protect Social Security, which was one of the greatest programs that the American government has ever done. It happened at a time when you would work your whole life, your whole life, raising your kids, working, being a Little League coach or a Sunday school teacher, and then you would retire into poverty. And Social Security has enabled people to retire with dignity and overwhelmingly not be in poverty. We have to keep it solvent. And we will keep it solvent. And we’ll look for strategies like adjusting the payroll tax cap upward in order to do that.

Here’s what Hillary and I will not do. And I want to make this very plain. We will never, ever engage in a risky scheme to privatize Social Security. Donald Trump wrote a book, and he said Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, and privatization would be good for all of us. And when Congressman Pence was in Congress, he was the chief cheerleader for the privatization of Social Security. Even after President Bush stopped pushing for it, Governor—Congressman Pence kept pushing for it. We’re going to stand up against efforts to privatize Social Security. And we’ll look for ways to keep it solvent going forward, focusing primarily on the payroll tax cap.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence, I’ll give you an opportunity to respond.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, thanks, Elaine. There they go again. OK. All Donald Trump—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Go read—go read the book.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: All Donald Trump and I have said about Social Security is we’re going to meet our obligations to our seniors. That’s it.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Go read the book.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We’ve said we’re going to meet the obligations of Medicare. That’s what this campaign is really about, Senator. And I get—this is—this is the old scare tactic that they roll out, scare the seniors—

SEN. TIM KAINE: That’s—but you have a voting record, Governor.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And I get all of that. I just—look—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: There’s a question that you asked a little bit earlier that I have to go back to.

SEN. TIM KAINE: I can’t believe that you won’t defend your own voting record.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I have to go back to.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, look, I—you’re running with Hillary Clinton, who wants to raise taxes by a trillion dollars, 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—

SEN. TIM KAINE: You’re not going to cut taxes. You’re going to raise taxes on the middle class.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —reform government programs, so we can meet the obligations of Social Security and Medicare.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: If we stay on the path that your party has us on, we’re going to be in a—in a mountain range of debt. And we’re going to face hard choices, and Democrats—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Governor Pence, Elaine asked—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, I want to move on now.

SEN. TIM KAINE: You did ask this question about debt. And the debt explosion on the Trump plan is much, much bigger than anything on the Clinton side.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right. Let me move on.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka, on this issue of Social Security?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, on the issue of Social Security, it is quite clear that both the Republicans and the Democrats inspire some—a bit of distrust. We know that, for example, that the Obama administration was considering, and at one point was pushing for, Social Security cuts. And we know that the Republicans have always considered privatizing Social Security. This is a program that the American have benefited from. It came out of the struggles of the 1930s. It’s a program that we have to continue to struggle for, because it is something that has, in fact, benefited folks once they were able to in fact retire.

The problem we have now is that it should be expanded. And so, we need to hear more about how we expand Social Security both for folks who are elderly, but we need to have a program, an economic program, that provides real Social Security for us throughout our entire lifetime. So, we want a program that takes away the anxiety, takes away the fear of living in a society in which competition and insecurity is built into the fabric of this economy. We want to have a new kind of society in which everyone can be secure in their existence. So, we support efforts to expand the notion, the idea of Social Security. And we definitely say that if you want to protect that program, demand that the government stops borrowing from the Social Security trust fund to mask the federal deficit. So, we need to struggle. We need to be aware of what’s happening with this program and be prepared to defend it.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: To the issue of law enforcement and race relations, law enforcement and race relations. After the Dallas police shooting, Police Chief David Brown said, quote, “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, not enough drug addiction funding, schools fail, let’s give it to the cops.” Do we ask too much of police officers in this country? And how would you specifically address the chief’s concerns? Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, I think that’s a very fair comment. I think we put a lot on police’s shoulders. And this is something I got a lot of scar tissue and experience on. I was a city councilman and mayor in Richmond. And when I came in, we had one of the highest homicide rates in the United States. We fought very, very hard over the course of my time in local office with our police department, and we reduced our homicide rate nearly in half. And then, when I was governor of Virginia, we worked hard, too. And we did something we had really wanted to do. For the first time ever, we cracked the top 10, 10 safest states, because we worked together.

Here’s what I learned as a mayor and a governor. The way you make communities safer and the way you make police safer is through community policing. You build the bonds between the community and the police force, build bonds of understanding, and then, when people feel comfortable in their communities, that gap between the police and the communities they serve narrows. And when that gap narrows, it’s safer for the communities, and it’s safer for the police.

That model still works across our country, but there are some other models that don’t work, an overly aggressive, more militarized model. Donald Trump recently said we need to do more stop-and-frisk around the country. That would be a big mistake, because it polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.

So here’s what we’ll do. We’ll focus on community policing. We will focus on—and Hillary Clinton has rolled out a really comprehensive mental health reform package that she worked on with law enforcement professionals, and we will also fight the scourge of gun violence in the United States.

I’m a gun owner. I’m a strong Second Amendment supporter. But I’ve got a lot of scar tissue, because when I was governor of Virginia, there was a horrible shooting at Virginia Tech, and we learned that, through that painful situation, that gaps in the background record check system should have been closed, and it could have prevented that crime. And so we’re going to work to do things like close background record checks. And if we do, we won’t have the tragedies that we did.

One of those killed at Virginia Tech was a guy named Liviu Librescu. He was a 70-plus-year-old Romanian Holocaust survivor. He had survived the Holocaust. Then he survived the Soviet Union takeover of his country. But then he was a visiting professor at Virginia Tech, and he couldn’t survive the scourge of gun violence.

We can support the Second Amendment and do things like background record checks and make us safer, and that will make police safer, too.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You know, my uncle was a cop, a career cop, on the beat in downtown Chicago. He was my hero when I was growing up. And we’d go up to visit my dad’s family in Chicago. My three brothers and I would marvel at my uncle when he would come out in his uniform, sidearm at his side. Police officers are the best of us. And the men and women, white, African-American, Asian, Latino, Hispanic, they put their lives on the line every single day.

And let my say, at—at the risk of agreeing with you, community policing is a great idea. It’s worked in the Hoosier state. And we fully support that. Donald Trump and I are going to make sure that law enforcement have the resources and the tools to be able to really restore law and order to the cities and communities in this nation. It’s probably—probably why the 330,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America, because they see his commitment to them. They see his commitment to law and order.

But they also—they also hear the bad-mouthing, the bad-mouthing that comes from people that seize upon tragedy, in the wake of police action shootings, as—as a reason to—to use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of—of implicit bias or institutional racism. And that really has got to stop.

I mean, when an African-American police officer in Charlotte named Brentley Vinson, an all-star football player who went to Liberty University here in the state, came home, followed his dad into law enforcement, joined the force in Charlotte, joined the force in Charlotte in 2014, was involved in a police action shooting that claimed the life of Keith—Keith Lamont Scott, it was a tragedy. I mean, I—we mourn with those who mourn. We—we grieve with those who grieve. And we’re saddened at the loss of life.

But Hillary Clinton actually referred to that moment as an example of implicit bias in the police force, where—where she used—when she was asked in the debate a week ago whether there was implicit bias in law enforcement, her only answer was that there’s implicit bias in everyone in the United States. I just think—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Can I—can I explain—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I just think what we ought to do is we ought to stop seizing on these moments of tragedy. We ought to assure the public that we’ll have a full and complete and transparent investigation whenever there’s a loss of life because of police action. But, Senator, please, you know, enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, it—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, people shouldn’t be afraid to bring up issues of bias in law enforcement. And if you’re afraid to have the—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’m not afraid to bring that up.

SEN. TIM KAINE: If—if you’re afraid to have the discussion, you’ll never solve it. And so, here’s—here’s an example, heartbreaking. We would agree this is a heartbreaking example.

The guy, Philando Castile, who was killed in St. Paul, he was a worker, a valued worker in a local school. And he was killed for no apparent reason in an incident that will be discussed and will be investigated. But when folks went and explored this situation, what they found is that Philando Castile, who was a—they called him Mr. Rogers with Dreadlocks in the school that he worked, the kids loved him—that he had been stopped by police 40 or 50 times before that fatal incident. And if you look at sentencing in this country, African Americans and Latinos get sentenced for the same crimes at very different rates.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We need criminal justice reform.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And—well, we do.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Indiana has passed criminal justice reform.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But I—but I just want to say, those who say that we should not—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s not what they’re talking about.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —we should not be able to bring up and talk about bias in the system, we’ll never solve the problem—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But, Senator, when an African—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: When an African-American—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —police officer is involved in a police action shooting involving an African American, why would Hillary Clinton accuse that African-American police officer of implicit bias?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I guess I can’t believe you are defending the position that there is no bias, and it’s a topic we don’t even need to talk about.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence, I have a question on that point.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I did not make that statement.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party, if you can join in this discussion around the issue of criminal justice reform?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, you know, Amy, we have the unique experience of watching, over the last couple of years, right before our eyes, a series of executions on the part of the police. We have watched Eric Garner being choked to death while he cried that he could not breathe. We have seen shootings where the police have surrounded an individual and then decided that, for whatever reason, that they felt threatened and would open fire. We—our eyes are not lying. What we see is real. And what we have concluded is that the police appear to be waging war on our communities. So what we have here is not the implicit bias or some abstract conversation, but we have in fact a structural relationship. We have a police force that is the front line in upholding the interests, the privileges of the 1 percent. They are there to protect and to serve not the people in our communities, but, in fact, that elite.

So, when we talk about police violence, when we talk about the fact that we have these individuals who are engaged in these activities, we would ask the question to Mike Pence that if the police are the best we have, then you would think that the representatives of the police, the representatives of their unions, would be the first ones to speak out when you have these obvious situations where you have police misconduct. But yet, instead, they are either silent or they are in support. So what we have here is impunity, impunity on the part of these police on the local level and impunity on the part of the federal government, that in the midst of this rash of killings, the federal government, under Barack Obama, has only saw fit to prosecute one of these killer cops.

So, what happens when we have this kind of impunity? We have resistance. And people are going to continue to resist. So, if we can’t have a conversation around why we have this kind of situation in this country, then I guess people have to be prepared for the inevitable consequence. People are not going to allow themselves to be—to have war waged against them without resistance. Resistance is, in fact, a human right. So when the state is serious about attempting to address this issue, then I think it will. But community policing is not the solution. The solution is transforming that relationship. And, unfortunately, that relationship will not be transformed until we transform this entire society, because the police are the front line in protecting privilege here in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Your fellow Republican, Governor Pence, Senator Tim Scott, who is African-American, recently spoke on the Senate floor. He said he was stopped seven times by law enforcement in one year.

SEN. TIM KAINE: A U.S. senator.

ELAINE QUIJANO: He said, “I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you’re being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself.” What would you say to Senator Scott about his experiences?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, I have the deepest respect for Senator Scott, and he’s a close friend. And what I would say is that we—we need to adopt criminal justice reform nationally. I—I signed criminal justice reform in the state of Indiana, Senator, and we’re very proud of it. I worked when I was in Congress on the Second Chance Act. We have got to do a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that do reflect an institutional bias in criminal justice.

But what—what—what Donald Trump and I are saying is let’s not have the reflex of assuming the worst of men and women in law enforcement. We truly do believe that law enforcement is not a force—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, can I—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —for racism or division in our country.

ELAINE QUIJANO: So what would you say to Senator Scott, Governor?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Law enforcement in this country is a force for good. They are the—they truly are people that put their lives on the line every single day. But I would—I would suggest to you what we need to do is assert a stronger leadership at the national level to support law enforcement. You just heard Senator Kaine reject stop-and-frisk. Well, I would suggest to you that the families that live in our inner cities that are besieged by crime—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, let me—let me—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, the question was about Senator Scott. What would—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —want to see more vigorous law enforcement in the country.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Yeah, let—

ELAINE QUIJANO: What would you tell Senator Scott?

SEN. TIM KAINE: And, Elaine, if I could—if I can jump in. I’ve heard Senator Scott make that eloquent plea. And look, criminal justice is about respecting the law and being respected by the law. So there is a fundamental respect issue here.

And I just want to talk about the tone that’s set from the top. Donald Trump during his campaign has called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He’s called women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting. I don’t like saying that in front of my wife and my mother. He attacked an Indiana-born federal judge and said he was unqualified to hear a federal lawsuit because his parents were Mexican. He went after John McCain, a POW, and said he wasn’t hero because he had been captured. He said African Americans are living in hell. And he perpetrated this outrageous and bigoted lie that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

If you want to have a society where people are respected and respect laws, you can’t have somebody at the top who demeans every group that he talks about. And I just—again, I cannot believe that Governor Pence will defend the insult-driven campaign that Donald Trump has run.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka, what would you respond to South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, African-American, who spoke about being stopped by police numerous times?

AJAMU BARAKA: That he represents a lived reality in this country, that it is what we spoke about a moment ago, that in this country, if you are an African American, and, in particular, African-American male, and—but now also a African-American woman, you are being—you are subjected to this kind of harassment, this kind of dehumanization. It is part of what we see with the increased, aggressive policing in our communities.

And why have that—why has that occurred? Well, one reason, we believe, is because what we have now is an aggression that is a reflection of the fact that our communities are seen as a surplus population, a surplus community, that right now, because black labor is no longer needed in this new economy, we find that we have become a social problem. And we see the consequence of that with mass incarceration, with this aggressive policing, with these—with the war being waged against our communities and against Latinos and against Native people.

So, you know, that is the reality that we are facing, and it’s a reality that we’ve got to resist. It is a systematic violation of our fundamental human rights. And every people on this planet have a right to resist any encroachment, any violation of their human rights. And that is something that we are—we are prepared to support. We stand in solidarity with people who are in resistance to the systematic oppression. And it’s part of what we are doing with this campaign in terms of connecting up with that resistance movement and hoping that we can expand that movement to a powerful force here in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, I want to turn to our next segment now: immigration. Your running mates have both said that undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes should be deported. What would you tell the millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed violent crimes? Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Donald Trump’s laid out a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all in this country. We’ve been talking it to death for 20 years. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to continue the policies of open borders, amnesty, catch and release, sanctuary cities—all the things that are driving—that are driving wages down in this country, Senator. And also, too often, with criminal aliens in the country, it’s bringing heartbreak.

But I—Donald Trump has a plan, that he laid out in Arizona, that will deal systematically with illegal immigration, beginning with border security, internal enforcement. It’s probably why for the first time in the history of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement their union actually endorsed Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, because they know they need help to enforce the laws of this country.

And Donald Trump has laid out a priority to remove criminal aliens, remove people that have overstayed their visas. And—and once we have accomplished all of that, which will—which will strengthen our economy, strengthen the rule of law in the country and make our communities safer once the criminal aliens are out, then we’ll deal with those that remain.

But I have to tell you, I just—I was listening to the avalanche of insults coming out of Senator Kaine a minute ago.

SEN. TIM KAINE: These were Donald’s—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And he said—he says—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Hold on a second, Governor.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: It’s my time, Senator.

ELAINE QUIJANO: It is, in fact, the governor’s time.

SEN. TIM KAINE: It is. You’re right. I apologize. This is your two minutes. I apologize.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Thanks. I forgive you. He says ours is an insult-driven campaign. Did you all just hear that? Ours is an insult-driven campaign? I mean, to be honest with you, if Donald Trump had said all the things that you said he said, in the way you said he said them, he still wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said that half of our supporters were a “basket of deplorables.” It’s—she said they were irredeemable, they were not American. I mean, it’s extraordinary. And then she labeled one after another “ism” on millions of Americans who believe that we can have a stronger America at home and abroad, who believe we can get this economy moving again, who believe that we can end illegal immigration once and for all. So, Senator, this—this insult-driven campaign, I mean, we’re—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables.”

SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary Clinton said something on the campaign trail, and the very next day, she said, “You know what? I shouldn’t have said that.” Look—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: She said she shouldn’t have said half.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, this is Senator Kaine’s two minutes, please.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Look—yeah, that’s right, so now we’re even.


SEN. TIM KAINE: Look—look for Donald Trump apologizing to John McCain for saying he wasn’t a hero.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, come on.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Did Donald Trump apologize for calling women slobs, pigs, dogs, disgusting?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: She apologized for saying “half.”


ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, it is his two minutes, please.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Did Donald Trump apologize for taking after somebody in a Twitter war and making fun of her weight? Did he apologize for saying African Americans are living in hell? Did he apologize for saying President Obama was not even a citizen of the United States? You will look in vain to see Donald Trump ever taking responsibility for anybody and apologizing.

Immigration. There’s two plans on the table. Hillary and I believe in comprehensive immigration reform. Donald Trump believes in deportation nation. You’ve got to pick your choice. Hillary and I want a bipartisan reform that will put keeping families together as the top goal; second, that will help focus enforcement efforts on those who are violent; third, that will do more border control; and, fourth, that will provide a path to citizenship for those who work hard, pay taxes, play by the rules and take criminal background record checks. That’s our proposal.

Donald Trump proposes to deport 16 million people, 11 million who are here without documents. And both Donald Trump and Mike Pence want to get rid of birthright citizenship. So if you’re born here but your parents don’t have documents, they want to eliminate that. That’s another four-and-a-half million people. These guys—and Donald Trump has said it—deportation force. They want to go house to house, school to school, business to business, and kick out 16 million people. And I cannot believe—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s nonsense. That’s nonsense.

SEN. TIM KAINE: I cannot believe that Governor Pence would sit here and defend his running mate’s claim that we should create a deportation force to—so that they’ll all be gone.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, we have a deportation force. It’s called Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. And the union for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, for the first time in their history, endorsed Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States of America.

SEN. TIM KAINE: So you like the 16 million deportations?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The—no, Senator, that’s nonsense. Look, what you just heard is they have a plan for open borders, amnesty. That’s—that goes—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Our plan is like Ronald Reagan’s plan from 1986.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: They call it comprehensive immigration reform—they call it comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We all know the routine. It’s amnesty. And you heard one of the last things he mentioned was border security. That’s how Washington always plays it.



GOV. MIKE PENCE: They always say we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, we’ll eventually get the border.

SEN. TIM KAINE: We voted for border security three years ago, and Governor Pence was against it.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, Mr. Trump has said—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’ll tell you, Ronald Reagan said a nation without borders is not a nation. Donald Trump is committed to restoring the borders of this nation—

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka, the Green Party’s plan for immigration and your response to the Democratic and Republican candidates?

AJAMU BARAKA: Dr. Stein has laid out our plan, which is basically we support comprehensive immigration reform. But we also understand that we’ve got to address the issues that drive people to this country. And those issues are related to the—to the relationship between the U.S. and these various countries in various parts of the world, in particular in Central and South America. If we have fair trade, if we have a situation where countries are allowed to develop along their own lines, where they can develop their economy, then we won’t have the push that we see that is occurring that’s compelling people to have to come to or go to another country in order to survive. We see the consequence of NAFTA is devastating effects on the countryside in Mexico. And now we see the same kind of agreement being at the point of being approved with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So, these kinds of fair—these kinds of trade issues, these kinds of economic issues are the driving force for immigration.

We think that both parties are—can be criticized for their immigration, or non-immigration, policies. It is really sort of rich that the Democrats will talk about deportation, where under the Obama administration we’ve had record deportations. And the consequence has been a reign of terror in various immigrant communities. The Obama administration has refused to respect the provisions of the covenant—of the convention on migrant rights, that would give undocumented folks the ability to live a life out of the shadows, to have access to education and to healthcare. So, both parties have played games with this immigration issue.

And we believe that the only way we’re going to be able to address this issue is, again, building a powerful movement that will force the politicians to have something that is really rooted in the real needs of people, to allow them to be legalized and allow them to organize themselves and allow them to be fully human. And that means we’ve got to struggle to achieve that.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back to vice-presidential debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: So, Governor, how would these millions of undocumented immigrants leave? Would they forcibly removed?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, I think Donald Trump laid out a series of priorities that doesn’t end with border security. It begins with border security. And after we secure the border, not only build a wall, but beneath the ground and in the air, we do internal enforcement.

But he said the focus has to be on criminal aliens. We just—we just had a conversation about law enforcement. We just had a conversation about the—the violence that’s besetting our cities. The reality is that there’s heartbreak and tragedy that has struck American families because people that came into this country illegally are now involved in criminal enterprise and activity. And we don’t have the resources or the will to deport them systematically.

Donald Trump has said we’re going to move those people out, people who’ve overstayed their visas. We’re going to enforce the law of this country. We’re going to strengthen Immigrations and Customs Enforcements with more resources and more personnel to be able to do that. And then Donald Trump has made it clear: Once we’ve done all of those things, that we’re going to reform the immigration system that we have—

SEN. TIM KAINE: I just have to correct Governor Pence.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —where people can come into this country.

SEN. TIM KAINE: I have to—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And that’s—that’s the order that you should do it: border security, removing criminal aliens, upholding with law, and then—but then, Senator, I’ll work with you when you go back to the Senate, I promise you. We’ll work with you to reform the immigration system.

SEN. TIM KAINE: I look forward to working together in whatever capacities we serve in. But I just want to make it very, very clear that he’s trying to fuzz up what Donald Trump has said. When Donald Trump spoke in Phoenix, he looked the audience in the eye, and he said, “No, we’re building the wall, and we’re deporting everybody.” He said, quote, “They will all be gone.” “They will all be gone.” And this is one of these ones where you can just go to the tape on it and see what Donald Trump has said. And to add—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: He was talking about criminal aliens.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And to add to it—and to add to it, and to add to it, we are a nation of immigrants. Mike Pence and I both are descended from immigrant families. Some things, you know, maybe weren’t said so great about the Irish when they came, but we’ve done well by absorbing immigrants, and it’s made our nation stronger.

When Donald Trump says Mexicans are rapists and criminals, Mexican immigrants, when Donald Trump says about your judge, a Hoosier judge—he said that Judge Curiel was unqualified—unqualified—to hear a case because his parents were Mexican. I can’t imagine how you could defend that.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, you have one more minute on immigration.

AJAMU BARAKA: It’s clear that we have to have a policy that allows for immigrants to have their humanity recognized. It is really a shame that the lives of these millions of people have become a political football in the discourse in this country. Again, if there’s going to be real justice in this country, we’ve had—we have to have a path to citizenship. That is our position from the Green Party and the Stein-Baraka campaign. And we believe that if we are elected, that will be one of the first orders of business. It is a shame that people are still living in the shadows. We think that this notion of a wall and this obsession with the border is a reflection of the kind of authoritarian mentality we have on both the left and also on the right—well, on the right and the left. So we are prepared to really push forward with real comprehensive immigration reform that allows for people to live a decent life out of the shadows with their full humanity. That’s our objective.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!'s live coverage of the vice-presidential debate, the only one that will be held in this 2016 presidential season. And it's taking place at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. The Commission on Democratic—the Commission on Presidential Debates is running the debate at the university. It has only allowed in the Democratic and the Republican vice-presidential candidates. Democracy Now! has expanded debate to break the sound barrier, inviting on the major-party third-party candidates. We invited William Weld of the Libertarian Party; the Libertarian Party did not respond. But the Green Party did. And so we’re expanding the debate with Ajamu Baraka, the vice-presidential nominee for the Green Party. We go back now to debate moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, I’d like to shift now to the threat of terrorism. Do you think the world today is a safer or more dangerous place than it was eight years ago? Has the terrorist threat increased or decreased? Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways, because bin Laden is dead. The terrorist threat has decreased in some ways, because an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stopped. The terrorist threat to United States troops has been decreased in some ways, because there’s not 175,000 in a dangerous part of the world. There’s only 15,000. But there are other parts of the world that are challenging.

Let me tell you this: To beat terrorism, there’s only one candidate who can do it, and it’s Hillary Clinton. Remember, Hillary Clinton was the senator from New York on 9/11. She was there at the World Trade Center when they were still searching for victims and survivors. That’s seared onto her, the need to beat terrorism.

And she’s got a plan to do it. She was part of the national security team that wiped out bin Laden. Here’s her plan to defeat ISIL. First, we’ve got to keep taking out their leaders on the battlefield. She was part of the team that got bin Laden, and she’ll lead the team that will get Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS. Second, we’ve got to disrupt financing networks; third, disrupt their ability to recruit on the internet, in their safe havens; but, fourth, we also have to work with allies to share and surge intelligence. That’s the Hillary Clinton plan. She’s got the experience to do it.

Donald Trump. Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot. Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan. He said, “Um, I have a secret plan,” and then he said, “Um, I know more than all the generals about ISIL.” And then he said, “I’m going to call the generals to help me figure out a plan.” And finally he said, “I’m going to fire all the generals.” He doesn’t have a plan.

But he does have dangerous ideas. Here’s four. He trash-talks the military: The military is a disaster, John McCain’s no hero, the generals need all to be fired, and I know more than them. He wants to tear up alliances: NATO is obsolete, and we’ll only work together with Israel if they pay “big league.” Third, he loves dictators. He’s got kind of a personal Mount Rushmore: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Muammar Gaddafi—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, please. Come on.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —and Saddam Hussein. And last, and most dangerously, Donald Trump believes—Donald Trump believes that the world will be safer if more nations have nuclear weapons. He’s said Saudi Arabia should get them, Japan should get them, Korea should get them. And when he was confronted with this, and told, “Wait a minute, terrorists could get those, proliferation could lead to nuclear war,” here’s what Donald Trump said, and I quote: “Go ahead, folks. Enjoy yourselves.”

I’d love to hear Governor Pence tell me what’s so enjoyable or comical about nuclear war.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Did you work on that one a long time? Because that had a lot of really creative lines in it.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I’m going to see if you can defend any of it.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Look, look, I can defend. I—I can—I can make very clear to the American people, after traveling millions of miles as our secretary of state, after being the architect of the foreign policy of this administration, America is less safe today than it was the day that Barack Obama became president of the United States. It’s absolutely inarguable. Now, we’ve weakened America’s place in the world. It’s been a combination of factors, but mostly it’s been a lack of leadership.

I mean, I will give you—and I was in Washington, D.C., on 9/11. I saw the clouds of smoke rise from the Pentagon.

SEN. TIM KAINE: I was in Virginia, where the Pentagon’s smoke—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I know you were. We all lived through that day as a nation. It was heartbreaking. And I want to give this president credit for bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.

But the truth is, Osama bin Laden led al-Qaeda. Our primary threat today is ISIS. And because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement that would have allowed some American combat troops to remain in Iraq and secure the hard-fought gains the American soldier had won by 2009, ISIS was able to be literally conjured up out of the desert, and it’s overrun vast areas that the American soldier had won in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

My heart breaks for the likes of Lance Corporal Scott Zubowski. He fell in Fallujah in 2005. He fought hard through some of the most difficult days in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedom and secure that nation. And that nation was secured in 2009. But because Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama failed to provide a status of forces agreement and leave sufficient troops in there, we are back at war. The president just ordered more troops on the ground. We are back at war in Iraq. And Scott Zubowski, whose mom would always come to Memorial Day events in Newcastle, Indiana, to see me, and I’d always give her a hug and tell her we’re never going to forget her son—and we never will—Scott Zubowski and the sacrifices the American soldier made were squandered in Iraq because this administration created a vacuum in which ISIS was able to grow.

And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You didn’t stop the nuclear weapons program.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Yes, we did.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You essentially—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Even the Israeli military says it stopped.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You essentially guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there’s no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice-presidential nominee, the question: Do you think that this country is safer, or is it more dangerous, than it was eight years ago?

AJAMU BARAKA: This country and the world is more dangerous as a consequence of the rampage that the U.S. has been involved in in the so-called Middle East. I think Governor Pence and Tim Kaine, I think they forgot that the real genesis of this—of this situation really has to be laid at the foot of the invasion of Iraq, an invasion that Hillary Clinton supported and an invasion that is where we see the expansion of the forces of the jihadists in that part of the world. So, it’s been the policies of both administrations. Under the Bush administration, there was a conscious decision to utilize jihadist forces to advance U.S. policies. The award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh clearly documented that. And that policy was continued under the Obama administration.

So, the policies of using these jihadists to advance their interests in places like Syria, we see the blowback happening across—across the world. The policies have gone into—into Libya and destroying that state. You know, one of the things that did not come out in the hearings around Benghazi was what was happening at that annex. And I think the story is very clear. What they were involved in at the annex was a gun-running program to transfer the weapons from Libya, after they had destroyed that country, to Syria. So we see that it’s been the militarism, it’s been the policies of the Bush and the Obama administration, that has created the destabilization, not only in the Middle East, but also we are experiencing the blowback of the enhancement, the military enhancement, of these jihadist forces.

So, you know, any simple explanation that could be put on the—at the feet of either one of these parties is something that we have to look at very critically. This is part a collective process, a bipartisan process, to advance U.S. interests by using these unsavory forces and using and working through their vassal states like the Saudis, who even Joe Biden said they can’t stop from—they can’t stop the Saudis from providing finance to these various Wahhabist groups. So, this is a complex and a nasty game that is being played by the elites.

AMY GOODMAN: Debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence, Mr. Trump has proposed extreme vetting of immigrants from parts of the world that export terrorism. But that does not address many of the recent terrorist attacks in the United States, such as the Orlando nightclub massacre and the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey. Those were homegrown, committed by U.S. citizens and legal residents. What specific tools would you use to prevent those kinds of attacks?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, I think it’s—I think it’s a great question, Elaine. But it really does begin with us reforming our immigration system and putting the interests, particularly the safety and security, of the American people first. I mean, Donald Trump has called for extreme vetting for people coming into this country so that we don’t bring people into the United States who are hostile to our Bill of Rights freedoms, who are hostile to the American way of life. But also, Donald Trump and I are committed to suspending the Syrian refugee program and programs and immigration from areas of the world that have been compromised by terrorism. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to increase the Syrian refugee program by 500—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, I want to tell you about our plan.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, the question was about homegrown.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: And so—but first, you know, let’s make sure we’re putting the safety and security of the American people first, instead of Hillary Clinton expanding the Syrian refugee program.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Or instead of you violating the Constitution—


SEN. TIM KAINE: —by blocking people based on their national origin rather than whether they’re dangerous.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s not—that’s absolutely false.

SEN. TIM KAINE: That’s what the Seventh Circuit decided just—here’s the difference, Elaine.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The Seventh Circuit—

SEN. TIM KAINE: We have different views on—


SEN. TIM KAINE: —on refugee issues—


SEN. TIM KAINE: —and on immigration. Hillary and I want to do enforcement based on “Are people dangerous?” These guys say all Mexicans are bad.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s absolutely false.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And with respect to—and with respect to refugees, we want to keep people out if they’re dangerous. Donald Trump said keep them out if they’re Muslim. Mike Pence—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Absolutely false.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —put a program in place to keep them out if they’re from Syria. And yesterday, an appellate court, with three Republican judges, struck down the Pence plan—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Right. Right.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —and said it was discriminatory.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And those judges—those judges said—

SEN. TIM KAINE: We should focus upon danger, not upon discrimination.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Those judges said—Elaine—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Elaine, to your point, those judges said it was because there wasn’t any evidence yet that—that ISIS had infiltrated the United States. Well, Germany just arrested three Syrian refugees that were connected to ISIS. I mean—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I know this stings, but they told you there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But, look, if you’re going to be critical of me on that, that’s fair game. I will tell you, after two Syrian refugees were involved in the attack in Paris, that is called Paris’s 9/11, as governor of the state of Indiana, I have no higher priority than the safety and security of the people of my state.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But, Governor Pence—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: So you bet I suspended that program.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But, Governor Pence, I just—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And I stand by that decision. And if I’m vice president of the United States or Donald Trump is president, we are going to put the safety and security of the American people first.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Can we—sure. Can we just be clear: Hillary and I will do immigration enforcement, and we’ll vet refugees based on whether they’re dangerous or not. We won’t do it based on discriminating against you from the country you come from or the religion that you practice.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But the problem with that is we—

SEN. TIM KAINE: That is completely antithetical—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Now, look—

SEN. TIM KAINE: —to the Jeffersonian values of equality.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The director—Elaine, the director of the FBI, our Homeland Security, said we can’t know for certain who these people are coming from Syria.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Yes, we can.


SEN. TIM KAINE: And when we don’t let them know, we don’t let them in.


SEN. TIM KAINE: When we don’t know who they are, we don’t let them in.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The FBI and Homeland Security said we can’t know for certain. You’ve got to err on the side of the safety and security of the American people, Senator. I understand the—

SEN. TIM KAINE: By trashing all Syrians or trashing all Muslims?

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka?

AJAMU BARAKA: You know, one of the issue that—issues that they’re not really addressing is—in terms so-called homegrown terrorists, is: What are the reasons why these individuals are becoming radicalized? And I think one of the main reasons is that they see that Islam has become a whipping board in U.S. discourse. They see that Islamophobia has become the norm in this country. It’s reflected not only in the policies of both of these parties, but also in the popular culture. They see that the U.S., both under the Obama administration and the Bush administrations, are involved in a series of attacks on various Muslim countries. So they have been subjected to a radicalization process based on their observation of what’s happening to Islam. So, once the U.S. begins to shift its policies, once Islamophobia ceases to be the norm, then we will see a reduction in the kind of blowback that we see here in this country. So there has to be a shift in policies.

This is not a serious conversation taking place right now. You know, the fact that we have Syrian refugees is a consequence, again, of U.S. and Western policies in Syria, where refugees were used as a political football between Turkey and the EU and the U.S., trying to create an intensified international crisis to put pressure on the Assad government. So, these are not serious kinds of issues that they are currently debating, because they’re not getting at the crux of the problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: …expand the Syrian refugee program. We’re going to put the safety and security of the American people first.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, let me ask you this.


ELAINE QUIJANO: Secretary Clinton has talked about an intelligence surge.


ELAINE QUIJANO: What exactly would an intelligence surge look like? And how would that help identify terrorists—


ELAINE QUIJANO: —with no operational connection to a foreign terrorist organization?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Intelligence surge is two things, Elaine. It’s two things. It’s, first, dramatically expanding our intelligence capacities by hiring great professionals, but also we’ve got some of the best intel and cyber employees in the world right here in the United States working for many of our private sector companies. So it involves increasing our own workforce, but striking great partnerships with some of our cyber and intel experts in the private sector, so that we can, consistent with constitutional principles, gather more intelligence.

But the second piece of this is really, really important. It also means creating stronger alliances, because you gather intelligence, and then you share your intelligence back and forth with allies. And that’s how you find out who may be trying to recruit, who may be trying to come from one country to the next. Alliances are critical.

That’s why Donald Trump’s claim that he wants to—that NATO is obsolete and that we need to get rid of NATO is so dangerous.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: That’s not his plan.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, he said NATO is obsolete. And, look, if you put aside—push aside your alliances, who are you going to share intelligence with? Hillary Clinton is a secretary of state who knows how to build alliances. She built the sanctions regime around the word that stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And that’s what an intelligence surge means: better skill and capacity, but also better alliances.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right. I’d like to turn now to the tragedy in Syria. Two hundred fifty thousand—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Can I—can I speak about the cyber—cybersecurity surge at all?

ELAINE QUIJANO: You can—you can have 30 seconds, Governor, quickly, please.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, first, that Donald Trump just spoke about this issue this week. We have got to bring together the best resources of this country to understand that cyberwarfare is the new warfare of the asymmetrical enemies that we face in this country. And I look forward, if I’m privileged to be in this role of working with you in the Senate, to make sure that we resource that effort.

SEN. TIM KAINE: We will work together in whatever roles we inhabit.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And then we have an intelligence—we have an intelligence surge. But I will also tell you that it’s important in this moment to remember that Hillary Clinton had a private server in her home that had classified information on it—

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, Governor, your 30 seconds is up.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —about drone strikes. Emails from the president of the United States of America were on there.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Her private server was subject—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: —to being hacked by foreign hackers.

ELAINE QUIJANO: I’d like to ask you about Syria, Governor.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We could put—we could put cybersecurity first, if we just make sure the next secretary of state doesn’t have a private server.

ELAINE QUIJANO: You have now had a minute. Two hundred fifty thousand—

SEN. TIM KAINE: A full investigation concluded that not one reasonable prosecutor would take any additional step. You don’t get to decide the rights and wrongs of this. We have a justice system that does that. And a Republican FBI director did an investigation and concluded there was no—

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, we are moving on now. Two hundred fifty thousand people—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, if your son or my son handled classified information the way Hillary Clinton did, they’d be court-martialed.

ELAINE QUIJANO: —one hundred thousand of them children—Governor—

SEN. TIM KAINE: That is absolutely false, and you know that.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: It’s absolutely true.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And you know that, Governor.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: It’s absolutely true.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Because the FBI—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, please.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —did an investigation.


SEN. TIM KAINE: And they concluded that there was—


SEN. TIM KAINE: —no reasonable prosecutor who would take it further. Sorry, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, Governor Pence.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party nominee Ajamu Baraka, the question: Hillary Clinton has called for an intelligence surge; what would that look like?

AJAMU BARAKA: You know, but the sexism of both of these candidates in ignoring the moderator, to me, it’s really annoying and, I think, demonstrates that both of these candidates are basically unqualified to lead this country.

The intelligence surge. Basically, that is a—just some type of a rhetorical device used by Hillary Clinton to suggest that she would have a different approach to policies in the Middle East and other places. There’s no intelligence surge that can—can direct U.S. policy in a more positive direction, unless they are prepared to admit that they have made certain mistakes and prepared to reverse their policies in the Middle East. There is no solution to what we see in the Middle East and in other parts of the world until the U.S. changes its policies of being committed to global domination. This notion of full-spectrum domination has to be reversed as policy, as part of their national strategy.

So, what we have with both candidates is a commitment to global domination on the part of the U.S. state. The only difference is the question of tactics. So, we have got to understand what we are seeing here and remember that Jill Stein and the Green Party provides the only alternative to the continuation of militarism, the continuation of war and destruction in the Middle East and in various parts of the world where we see the U.S. and U.S. intelligence is still involved in subversive activity. So, I guess maybe this global—this intelligence surge will be an expansion of subversion. It’s not really clear. But whatever it is, we know it’s going to be ominous and a threat to most of the people in this country and around the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

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: Back to debate moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor Pence, you had mentioned a no-fly zone. Where would you propose setting up a safe zone, specifically? How would you keep it safe?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, first and foremost, Donald Trump supports our troops. Donald Trump supports our veterans.

SEN. TIM KAINE: He won’t pay taxes.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Donald Trump has paid all the taxes that he’s—do you not take deductions? How does that work?

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, this is about Syria. I’d like to ask—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, I mean, honestly—honestly, Senator. Honestly, Senator.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But it is about our troops. It is about our troops.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I understand why you want to change—I understand why you want to change the subject.

SEN. TIM KAINE: How can you support the troops if you won’t pay taxes?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I understand—I understand why you want to change the subject. And let me be very clear on this Russian thing. The larger question here—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Do you think Donald Trump is smart to not pay taxes?

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, we’re going to have time to get to Russia here, but—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: What we’re dealing with is the—you know, there’s an old proverb that says the Russian bear never dies, it just hibernates. And the truth of the matter is, the weak and feckless foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has awakened an aggression in Russia that first appeared a few years ago with their move in Georgia, now their move into Crimea, now their move into the wider Middle East. And all the while, all we do is fold our arms and say we’re not having talks anymore.

To answer your question, we just need American strength. We need to—we need to marshal the resources of our allies in the region, and in the immediate, we need to act and act now to get people out of harm’s way.

ELAINE QUIJANO: And exactly how would those safe zones work? How would they remain safe?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The safe zones would have to be—as the senator said, there’s already a framework for this that’s been recognized by the international community. But the United States of America needs to be prepared to work with our allies in the region to create a route for safe passage and then to protect people in those areas, including with a no-fly zone.

But, look, this is very tough stuff. I served on the Foreign Affairs Committee for a decade. I traveled in and out of that region for 10 years. I saw what the American soldier won in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And to see the weak and feckless leadership that Hillary Clinton was the architect of and the foreign policy of the Obama administration—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, let me—let me come back and talk about—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —is deeply troubling to me. That will all change the day Donald Trump becomes president of the United States.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Let me talk about the things that Governor Pence doesn’t want to acknowledge, Elaine. He doesn’t want to acknowledge that we stopped the Iranian nuclear weapons program. He doesn’t want to acknowledge—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We didn’t.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —that Hillary was part of the team that got bin Laden. He doesn’t want to acknowledge that it’s a—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I just did.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —that it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, that it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, that we’re down from 175,000 troops deployed overseas to 15,000.

But let me tell you what will really make the Middle East dangerous: Donald Trump’s idea that more nations should get nuclear weapons—Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea. Ronald Reagan said something really interesting about nuclear proliferation back in the 1980s. He said the problem with nuclear proliferation is that some fool or maniac could trigger a catastrophic event. And I think that’s who Governor Pence’s running mate is, exactly who—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, come on.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —President Reagan warned us about.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, Senator, that was even beneath you and Hillary Clinton. And that—that’s pretty low.

SEN. TIM KAINE: But do you—do you think—do you think we should have more nuclear—more nuclear weapons in the world will make us safer?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, the—

SEN. TIM KAINE: That’s what Donald Trump thinks.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Ronald Reagan—Ronald Reagan also said nuclear war should never be fought, because it can never be won. And the United States of America needs to make investments in modernizing our nuclear force for both deterrence and—

SEN. TIM KAINE: But can you defend Donald Trump’s claim that more nations should get nuclear weapons?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —assurance to our allies. But let me go back to this Iran thing. I mean, he keeps saying that they prevented—that Hillary Clinton, who started the deal with the Iranians, prevented Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

SEN. TIM KAINE: That’s what the Israeli head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is saying right now, Governor Pence.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: They’ve got a—they’ve got a hundred—well, that’s not what—that’s not what Israel thinks.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Gadi Eizenkot, you can go check it.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You wouldn’t—yeah, you wouldn’t necessarily know that.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Go to the tape.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I know you boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech when he came before the Congress.

SEN. TIM KAINE: No, I visited him in his office. I visited him in his office.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You boycotted the speech. The point is, what this Iran—so-called Iran deal did was essentially guarantee—I mean, when I was in Congress, I fought hard on a bipartisan basis with Republican and Democrat members to move forward the toughest sanctions, it—literally in the history of the United States against Iran.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And then Hillary used them to get a deal.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We were bringing them to heel, but the goal was always that we would only lift the sanctions if Iran permanently renounced their nuclear ambitions.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, let me just mention one thing, in conclusion.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: They have not—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Elaine, let me finish a sentence. They have not renounced their nuclear ambitions. And when the deal’s period runs out—


GOV. MIKE PENCE: —there’s no limitation on them obtaining weapons. That—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Elaine, just—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Very quickly, Senator.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —and the fact that they got $1.7 billion in a ransom payment—

ELAINE QUIJANO: We need to talk about Russia. Very quickly, though, Senator, please.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —is just astonishing to the American people.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Six times tonight, I have said to Governor Pence, “I can’t imagine how you can defend your running mate’s position on one issue after the next.” And in all six cases, he’s refused to defend his running mate.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, let’s—no, no, don’t put words in my mouth.

ELAINE QUIJANO: OK, all right.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And yet—and yet—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: If he’s going do that, you’ve got to give me time.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And yet, he is asking everybody to vote for somebody that he cannot defend. And I just think that should be underlined.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, I’m happy—look—

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, gentlemen, let’s talk about Russia. This is a topic that has come up.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Elaine, I’m very, very happy to defend Donald Trump.

ELAINE QUIJANO: I will give you an opportunity to do that.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: If he wants to take these one at a time, I’ll take them one at a time.

SEN. TIM KAINE: More nations should get nuclear weapons. Try to defend that.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Don’t put words in my mouth. Well, he never said that, Senator. And you know it.


SEN. TIM KAINE: He has absolutely said it. Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Most of the stuff you’ve said, he never said.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka?

AJAMU BARAKA: You know, this is a—this is a very dangerous development. You know, they’re not talking about the fact that—I mean, when Governor Pence talks about the Obama administration being passive, of course, I guess they don’t understand or don’t see the very dangerous developments taking place on the western frontier of Russia with the rotation of NATO forces, a very provocative act, to say the least. That they don’t understand that to establish a humanitarian corridor with the possibility of a no-fly zone, you’re talking about a direct intervention on the part of the U.S. and the possibility of a conflict between the U.S. and a nuclear-armed Russia. When they continue to encircle the Russians, they are playing some very dangerous games here. And the question has to be asked: You know, why are the Russians now the new enemies? You know, some of us understand that the situation in Ukraine, for example, was created on the part of the U.S. as a second front related to Syria. So, from the Russian point of view, it appears that they are the ones that are the victims of aggression.

Look, folks, we’ve got to understand that, you know, we have to penetrate their war propaganda. We’ve got to penetrate the propaganda coming from the elites that make a lot of money from these conflicts, and stand up for the interests of the people who will be asked to go out and fight these wars, these wars for the 1 percent. There’s no reason why we have to have the Russians as the enemies. There’s no reason to have a military pivot to China. The reason that is taking place is because these forces, these—this elite, they’re committed to trying to maintain U.S. global hegemony. We have to ask the question to ourselves: Is that our interest? And we say it’s not.

AMY GOODMAN: This is “Expanding the Debate,” Democracy Now! special, where we pause the tape after each of the questions to the Democratic and Republican vice-presidential candidates and include the Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka. We go back now to debate moderator Elaine Qujano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Gentlemen, Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea and has provided crucial military support to the Assad regime. What steps, if any, would your administration take to counter these actions? Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: You’ve got to be tough on Russia. So let’s start with not praising Vladimir Putin as a great leader. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have said he’s a great leader. And Donald Trump has business—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, we haven’t.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —has business dealings—has business dealings with Russia that he refuses to disclose. Hillary Clinton has gone toe to toe with Russia. She went toe to toe with Russia as secretary of state to do the New START agreement to reduce Russia’s nuclear stockpile. She’s had the experience doing it. She went toe to toe with Russia and lodged protests when they went into Georgia. And we’ve done the same thing about Ukraine, but more than launching protests, we’ve put punishing economic sanctions on Russia that we need to continue.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, didn’t know that Russia had invaded the Crimea.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Oh, that’s nonsense.

SEN. TIM KAINE: He was on a TV show a couple months back, and he said, “I’ll guarantee you this: Russia is not going into the Ukraine.” And he had to be reminded that they had gone into the Crimea two years before.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: He knew that.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary—Hillary Clinton has gone toe to toe with Russia to work out a deal on New START. She got them engaged in a meaningful way to cap Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And yet she stood up to them on issues such as Syria and their invasion of Georgia. You’ve got to have the ability to do that, and Hillary does.

On the other hand, in Donald Trump, you have somebody who praises Vladimir Putin all the time. There—America should really wonder about a President Trump, who had a campaign manager with ties to Putin, pro-Putin elements in the Ukraine, who had to be fired for that reason. They should wonder, when Donald Trump is sitting down with Vladimir Putin, is it going to be America’s bottom line, or is it going to be Donald Trump’s bottom line, that he’s going to be worried about with all of his business dealings?

Now, this could be solved if Donald Trump would be willing to release his tax returns, as he told the American public that he would do. And I know he’s laughing at this, but every president—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: But what’s it got to do with Russia?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Every president since Richard Nixon has done it, and Donald Trump has said, “I’m doing business with Russia.” The only way the American public will see whether he has a conflict of interest—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, he hasn’t said that.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, your time is up.

SEN. TIM KAINE: He has, actually.


GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, thanks. I’m just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign on the other side of the table.

SEN. TIM KAINE: You know, I’m just saying facts about your running mate.


SEN. TIM KAINE: And I know you can’t defend them.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, please. This is the governor’s two minutes.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’m happy to defend him, Senator. Don’t put words in my mouth that I’m not defending him.

SEN. TIM KAINE: You’re not.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I’m happy to defend him. Most of what you said is completely false, and the American people know that. This—

SEN. TIM KAINE: I’ll run through the list of things where you didn’t defend him.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, please, this is Governor Pence’s two minutes.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: This isn’t—this isn’t the old days where you can just say stuff and people believe it. Look, this is the—this is the alternative universe of Washington, D.C., versus reality. Hillary Clinton said her number one priority was a reset with Russia. That reset resulted in the invasion of Ukraine, after they had infiltrated with what are called little green men, Russian soldiers that were dressing up like Ukrainian dissidents. And then they moved all the way into Crimea, took over the Crimean Peninsula. But Donald Trump knew that happened. He basically was saying it’s not going to happen again.

The truth of the matter is that—that what you have in the rise of aggressive Russia, which has had—increased its influence in Iran, that’s now—now, because of this deal, is on a pathway in the future to obtain a nuclear—the leading state sponsor of terror in the world, in Iran, now has a closer working relationship with Russia because of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and $150 billion and sanctions all being lifted.

And then, of course, Syria. I mean, it’s—it really is extraordinary. Syria is imploding. You just asked a very thoughtful question about the disaster in Aleppo. ISIS is headquartered in Raqqa. It is—ISIS from Raqqa has overrun vast areas that, at great sacrifice, the American soldier won in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And yet Senator Kaine still sits here, loyal soldier—I get all that—in saying that the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama somehow made the world more secure. I mean, it really is astonishing, that on the day—

SEN. TIM KAINE: We’ve wiped out the leader of al-Qaeda.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —on the day that Iran released four American hostages—

SEN. TIM KAINE: We stopped Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, Governor—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —we delivered 400 million in cash on—as a ransom payment for Americans held by the radical mullahs in Tehran.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka?

AJAMU BARAKA: You know, this conversation is really surreal. What gives the U.S. the justification to believe that it has a moral right to intervene any place on this planet? Are we—are we to believe that they are the arbiters or the supporters, the defenders of international human rights, when any rational person who can see and can think clearly can see that that cannot be the case, that we talk about the aggression on the part of the Russians?

But let’s look at what’s happened over the last 15 years with U.S. policies. They have gone into Iraq and destroyed that country. They have gone into Afghanistan. They have subverted Venezuela. They have gone into Libya and destroyed that country. They have been involved in aggression across the planet. Obama, every Tuesday, decides who’s going to live and die in his drone program. They allow for the—for the Saudis to go into Yemen and to create a humanitarian crisis there that no one talks about. So this notion of the U.S. having some kind of humanitarian justification to flaunt international law, to intervene where it chooses, to determine what governments are legitimate or not, to claim to be in a position to criticize the Russians, to me, is surreal.

We have to have a more critical approach to and understanding of U.S. policy. We cannot allow ourselves to be so easily manipulated by the administrations and by the corporate press. They clearly, even in the framing of these questions, have assumed that we have this enemy in the Russians and that the only solution, the only way we deal with these competitors—that’s what we’re talking about: capitalist competitors—is through military means. We’ve got to resist that and reject those kinds of policies. And that’s what we intend to do with this campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: The debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, just today, Mr. Trump said, quote, “Putin has no respect for Hillary Clinton and no respect for Obama.” Why do you think he’ll respect a Trump-Pence administration?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Strength, plain and simple.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Business dealings.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Donald Trump—that’s nonsense. Donald Trump is a strong leader—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Donald Trump’s son says that the Trump Organization—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —who is going to lead with American strength.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Please, Senator, I’ll give you a chance to respond.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: We’re going to rebuild our military. And let me—let me—this whole Putin thing. Look, America is stronger than Russia. Our economy is 16 times larger than the Russian economy. America’s political system is superior to the crony, corrupt capitalist system in Russia in every way.

When Donald Trump and I observe that, as I’ve said, in Syria, in Iran, in Ukraine, that the small and bullying leader of Russia has been stronger on the world stage than this administration, that’s stating painful facts. That’s not an endorsement of Vladimir Putin. That’s an indictment of the weak and feckless leadership—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, this is one where we can just kind of go to the tape on it. But Governor Pence said, inarguably, Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Obama.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: You’re—that is absolutely inaccurate.

SEN. TIM KAINE: And—and I just think a guy who praises—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: I said he’s a stronger—he’s been stronger on the world stage.

SEN. TIM KAINE: No, you said leader. And if—and I’ll just say this, Governor.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, you just said “better.”

SEN. TIM KAINE: If you—if you mistake leadership for dictatorship, and you can’t tell the difference, a country that’s running its economy into the ground—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yeah, here we go. This is the grade school thing again?

SEN. TIM KAINE: —persecuting journalists—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Right, this is grade school.

SEN. TIM KAINE: —if you can’t tell the difference, you shouldn’t be commander-in-chief.


SEN. TIM KAINE: And with Donald—Donald Trump’s sons say that they have all these business dealings with Russia. Those could be disclosed with tax returns, but they refuse to do them. Americans need to worry about whether Donald Trump will be watching out for America’s bottom line or his own bottom line.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, what went wrong with the Russia reset?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is a dictator.

ELAINE QUIJANO: And what would you do differently?

SEN. TIM KAINE: Vladimir Putin is a dictator. He’s not a leader. Anybody who thinks otherwise doesn’t know Russian history, and they don’t know Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton knows exactly who this guy is. John McCain said, “I look in his eyes, and I see KGB.” And Hillary kind of has that same feeling.


SEN. TIM KAINE: So how do deal with him? You’ve got to—we do have to deal with Russia in a lot of different ways. There are areas where we can cooperate. So, it was Hillary Clinton who worked with Russia on the New START treaty to reduce their nuclear weapons stockpile. It was Hillary Clinton that worked with Russia to get them engaged in a community of nations to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

She’s not going around praising Vladimir Putin as a great guy. But she knows how to sit down at a table and negotiate tough deals. This is a very challenging part of the world, and we ought to have a commander-in-chief who is prepared and done it, rather than somebody who goes around praising Vladimir Putin as a great leader.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka, your response?

AJAMU BARAKA: What we have to have is a leader, and we have the leader in Dr. Stein, who understands the world; who understands that we cannot continue to have relations in the world that take us to the brink of war; who understands that the Russians, like the Chinese, would like to have normal relations with the U.S.; who understands that if there is a conflict between ourselves and the Russians, that the losers will be the people of the world. If there’s a ground conflict, the working-class white workers and black and brown people are the ones who are going to fight this war for the 1 percent.

So, we have to pursue policies that take us away from the brink of conflict. It’s possible. There’s no natural reason why we have to be in conflict with these various nations, except for the fact that we have these powerful forces that are committed to global domination. We have to reverse those kinds of policies and bring sanity back into foreign policy of this country.

AMY GOODMAN: Debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, I’d like to ask now about North Korea, Iran and the threat of nuclear weapons. North Korea recently conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test.


ELAINE QUIJANO: What specific steps would you take to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the United States? Governor Pence?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, first, we need to—we need to make a commitment to rebuild our military, including modernizing our nuclear forces. And we also need—we also need an effective American diplomacy that will marshal the resources of nations in the Asian Pacific Rim to put pressure on North Korea, on Kim Jong-un, to abandon his nuclear ambitions. It has to remain the policy of the United States of America the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, plain and simple.

And when Donald Trump is president of the United States, we’re—we’re not going to have the—the kind of posture in the world that has Russia invading Crimea and Ukraine, that has the Chinese building new islands in the South China Sea, that has literally the world, including North Korea, flouting American power. We’re going to—we’re going to go back to the days of peace through strength.

But I have to tell you that—that all this talk about tax returns—and I get it, you know, you want to keep bringing that up. It must have—must have—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Until he meets his promise.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —done well in some focus group. But here—Hillary Clinton and her husband set up a private foundation called the Clinton Foundation. While she was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments and foreign donors.

Now, you all need to know out there, this is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process. They cannot make financial contributions. But the Clintons figured out a way to create a foundation where foreign governments and foreign donors could donate millions of dollars. And then we found, thanks to the good work of the Associated Press, that more than half of her private meetings when she was secretary of state were given to major donors of the Clinton Foundation. When you talk about all these—all these baseless rumors about Russia and the rest, Hillary Clinton—you asked the trustworthy question at the very beginning. The reason—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, your two minutes are up.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —the American people don’t trust Hillary Clinton is because they are looking at the pay-to-play politics that she operated with the Clinton Foundation through a private server—

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, please.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —while she’s secretary of state.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Your two minutes are up, Governor.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: And they’re saying enough is enough.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine?

SEN. TIM KAINE: I’m going to talk about the foundation, then I’ll talk about North Korea. So, on the foundation. I am glad to talk about the foundation. The Clinton Foundation is one of the highest-rated charities in the world. It provides AIDS drugs to about 11-and-a-half million people. It helps Americans deal with opioid overdoses. It gets higher rankings for its charity than the American Red Cross does. The Clinton Foundation does an awful lot of good work.

Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, took no action to benefit the foundation. The State Department did an investigation, and they concluded that everything Hillary Clinton did as secretary of state was completely in the interests of the United States. So the foundation does good work. And Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, acted in the interests of the United States.

But let’s compare this now with the Trump Organization and the Trump Foundation. The Trump Organization is an octopus-like organization with tentacles all over the world, whose conflict of interests could only be known if Donald Trump would release his tax returns. He’s refused to do it. His sons have said that the organization has a lot of business dealings in Russia. And remember, the Trump Organization is not a nonprofit. It’s putting money into Donald Trump’s pockets and into the pockets of his children, whereas the Clinton Foundation is a nonprofit, and no Clinton family member draws any salary.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: The Trump Foundation is a nonprofit.

SEN. TIM KAINE: In addition, Donald Trump has a foundation. The foundation was just fined for illegally contributing foundation dollars to a political campaign of a Florida attorney general. They made an illegal contribution, and then they tried to hide it by disguising it to somebody else. And the person they donated to was somebody whose office was charged with investigating Trump University.

This is the difference between a foundation that does good work and a secretary of state who acted in accord with American interests and somebody who is conflicted and doing work around the world and won’t share with the American public what he’s doing and what those conflicts are.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, I will give you 30 seconds to respond, because I know you want to. But again, I would remind you both this was about North Korea.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, thank you. Thank you. The Trump Foundation is a private family foundation. They give virtually every cent in the Trump Foundation to charitable causes.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Political contributions?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Less than 10 cents on the dollar in the Clinton Foundation has gone to charitable causes.

SEN. TIM KAINE: A $20,000 portrait of Donald Trump?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Less than 10 cents on the dollar of the Clinton Foundation has gone to charitable causes.

SEN. TIM KAINE: Ninety percent.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: It has been a platform for—for the Clintons to travel the world, to have staff. But honestly, Senator, we would know a lot more about it if Hillary Clinton would just turn over the 33,000 emails—

ELAINE QUIJANO: All right, let’s turn back to North Korea.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —that she refused to turn over.

AMY GOODMAN: Green Party vice-presidential nominee Ajamu Baraka?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, on the issue that’s on the table, which is North Korea, I guess one might assume that the North Koreans see that the U.S. has pledged that it will spend $1 trillion to upgrade its nuclear armaments. They see that Ash Carter is talking about the possibility of a first-strike nuclear attack on Russia. They see that the U.S. rejected the Iranian proposal to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone and that there’s no pressure being put on the Israelis to rid themselves of the nuclear arms. And they might conclude that having a nuclear deterrent makes sense. Perhaps maybe if U.S. policy was steered toward reducing the nuclear threat, perhaps if U.S. policy was geared toward trying to de-escalate the tensions between North Korea and South Korea, perhaps if the U.S. ceased threatening the North Koreans, perhaps we could enter into a conversation with that state to, in fact, eliminate its nuclear program, to give it the assurances it might need that it’s not going to be attacked and destroyed. So, again, this—the normalization of aggression, the normalization of military means that has developed over the last few years, under a Democratic administration, is quite troubling, especially with the possibility of the continuation of these policies under a Clinton administration. So we are quite concerned about the kind of warmongering that we see, the dangerous moves being made on the part of the U.S. military and the Obama administration in heightening tensions, and the collaboration, if you will, by the corporate press with the kind of warmongering that we see in this society.

AMY GOODMAN: Debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, if you had intelligence—

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —and were in her private server, we’d have a much better picture of what the Clinton Foundation was doing.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator Kaine, if you had intelligence that North Korea was about to launch a missile, a nuclear-armed missile, capable of reaching the United States, would you take preemptive action?

SEN. TIM KAINE: If we—look, a president should take action to defend the United States against imminent threat. You have to. A president has to do that. Now exactly what action? You would have to determine what your intelligence was, how certain you were of that intelligence. But you would have to take action.

You asked the question about how do we deal with a North Korea. I’m on the Foreign Relations Committee. We just did an extensive sanctions package against North Korea. And interestingly enough, Elaine, the U.N. followed and did this—virtually the same package. Often China will use their veto in the Security Council to veto a package like that. They’re starting to get worried about North Korea, too.


SEN. TIM KAINE: So they actually supported the sanctions package, even though many of the sanctions are against Chinese—Chinese firms, Chinese financial institutions. So we’re working together with China, and we need to. China’s another one of those relationships where it’s competitive, it’s also challenging. And in times like North Korea, we have to be able to cooperate.

Hillary understands that very well. She went once famously to China and stood up at a human rights meeting and looked them in the eye and said, “Women’s rights are human rights.” They didn’t want her to say that, but she did. But she’s also worked on a lot of diplomatic and important diplomatic deals with China. And that’s what it’s going to take.

The thing I would worry a little bit about is that Donald Trump owes about $650 million to banks, including the Bank of China. I’m not sure he could stand up so tough to the people who have loaned him money.

AMY GOODMAN: Ajamu Baraka?

AJAMU BARAKA: Well, this is a sort of a ridiculous conversation, but it’s sort of symptomatic of what we’ve seen the entire night. What we have to have is a real commitment to peace, a real commitment to relations that make sense. The Chinese are not going to put pressure on the North Koreans as long as they see that the U.S. is pivoting toward Asia. So, again, we have to use the power of the state in order to disengage from this commitment to military aggression, if we want to have a world in which there’s going to be stabilization, peace and the possibility of real development without—without wars.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!'s “Expanding the Debate” special. Yes, we're broadcasting the only vice-presidential debate that will take place in this 2016 presidential election season, but we’re expanding it by not only broadcasting for you the Republican and Democratic candidates, but pausing the tape to bring you the responses in real time of the Green Party nominee, Ajamu Baraka. Back to the debate moderator, Elaine Quijano.

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: We go to the last question with debate moderator Elaine Quijano.

ELAINE QUIJANO: I do have one final question for you both tonight. It has been a divisive campaign. Senator Kaine, if your ticket wins, what specifically are you going to do to unify the country and reassure the people who voted against you?

SEN. TIM KAINE: That’s a really important one. That may be the $64,000 question, because it has been a divisive campaign. And again, Hillary is running a campaign about stronger together, and Donald Trump—and this is—this is not directed at this man, except to the extent that he can’t defend Donald Trump—Donald Trump has run a campaign that’s been about one insult after the next. But we do have to bring the country together. So here’s what we’ll do.

Hillary Clinton was first lady, then senator for eight years and secretary of state. And I serve in the Senate. And I’m really amazed, Elaine, as I talk to Republican senators, how well they regard and respect Hillary Clinton. She was on the Armed Services Committee. She was on other committees. She worked across the aisle when she was first lady to get the CHIP program passed so that 8 million low-income kids have health insurance in this country, including 150,000 in Indiana. She worked across the aisle after 9/11 to get health benefits for the first responders who bravely went into the towers and into the Pentagon. She worked to get benefits for—TRICARE benefits for National Guard members, including Hoosiers and Virginians in the National Guard. She has a track record of working across the aisle to make things happen.

And you know what, Elaine? I have the same track record. I was a governor of Virginia with two Republican houses. And in the Senate, I have good working relationships across the aisle, because I think it’s fine to be a Democrat or Republican or independent, but after Election Day, the goal is work together. And Hillary Clinton has a track record of accomplishment across the aisle that will enable her to do just that when we work with the new Congress in January.

ELAINE QUIJANO: Governor, how will you unify the country if you win?

GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, thank you, Elaine, and thanks for a great discussion—

SEN. TIM KAINE: Absolutely.

GOV. MIKE PENCE: —tonight. Thank you, Senator.

This is a very challenging time in the life of our nation. Weakened America’s place in the world after the leadership of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the world stage has been followed by an economy that is truly struggling, stifled by an avalanche of more taxes, more regulation, Obamacare, the war on coal, and the kind of trade deals that have put American workers in the back seat. I think the best way that we can bring people together is through change in Washington, D.C.

You know, I served in Washington, D.C., for 12 years in the Congress of the United States. And I served with many Republicans and Democrats, men and women of goodwill. The potential is there to really change the direction of this country, but it’s going to take leadership to do it.

The American people want to see our nation standing tall on the world stage again. They want to see us supporting our military, rebuilding our military, commanding the respect of the world. And they want to see the American economy off to the races again. They want to see an American comeback.

And Donald Trump’s entire career has been about building. It’s been about—it’s going through hardship, just like a businessperson does, and finding a way through smarts and ingenuity and resilience to fight forward. And when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, we’re going to have a stronger America.

When you hear him say he wants to make America great again, when we do that, I truly do believe the American people are going to be standing taller. They’re going to see that real change can happen, after decades of just talking about it. And when that happens, the American people are going to stand tall, stand together, and we’ll have the kind of unity that’s been missing for way too long.

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

AJAMU BARAKA: I think it’s quite obvious that neither of one of those parties are going to be able to bring the kind of unity that they talk about in this country, especially based on the fact that both of those parties represent a minority, the 1 percent. And that 1 percent is, in fact, at war with the majority of us. So, there is going to be continued struggle.

We’re going to strive for unity among the majority. We’re going to struggle to try to build a new kind of society, but we understand that we have to, in fact, engage in struggle to do that. So we see, over the next few years, struggle. We see that if we’re going to have unity, that’s going to be unity that emerges out of struggle, that we have to emerge the and surface the interests that are in play. And the interests of the majority of the people, working people in this country, the poor, are not the same interests as the 1 percent. So we’re not going to promise a phony kind of unity. What we’re going to promise is a vision, a vision that we can be more than what we are today, but a vision that can only be realized as a consequence of us building alternative power among ourselves. And so, we are going to, in fact, do that.

That is the objective of this campaign, not a campaign just committed to voting on November the 8th, but a campaign that is committed to building a new movement, a campaign that’s building—that is committed to building an apparatus, an instrument, that can really represent the needs and the aspirations of the majority of the people here in this country. So, false unity is not something we are concerned with. We’re concerned with building a new society and a new world, and we’re prepared to, in fact, to fight for that.

AMY GOODMAN: And that does it for the first and only vice-presidential debate of the 2016 presidential race. You’ve been listening to Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine, who faced off at Longwood University at Farmville, Virginia, five weeks before Election Day. And Democracy Now! expanded the debate by giving Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka a chance to respond to the same questions in real time posed to Kaine and Pence. He joined us from Richmond, Virginia. We did invite the vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party William Weld, but he did not respond to our invitation. Both of these candidates were excluded from tonight’s debate under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. The debate was moderated by Elaine Quijano of CBS News. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. I’m rejoined now by Nermeen Shaikh for these last 10 minutes of discussion.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And to talk more about tonight’s debate, we’re joined by longtime journalist Allan Nairn here in New York, and John Nichols of The Nation magazine joins us from Madison, Wisconsin.

So, John Nichols, why don’t we begin with you? What was your assessment of tonight’s debate?

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, my assessment is that it won’t be remembered for long. The basic tenor of the debate was contentious, but not particularly informative. The candidates came in seeking to deliver talking points related to their campaigns, and, for the most part, they talked over one another, and it was, in many ways, a relatively empty discussion.

The only place where it got strong and interesting and worthy of comment was toward the end, and there you saw a discussion about religious faith. And Elaine Quijano asked both of the candidates to talk about issues they had wrestled with. And you actually got into one of the deeper and more serious discussions about abortion rights, about the death penalty, a host of other issues, that we’ve heard in a national debate. So, that was quite strong, although I would suggest that anybody who listened to it probably was still driven to their corner. If you are a person who is pro-choice, you were certainly going to be pleased with what Tim Kaine said. If you’re a person who’s anti-choice, you were going to be pleased with what you heard from Mike Pence.

So, at the end of the day, I would say this was not a debate like the presidential debate of a week ago, which I think really did move the needle to some extent, where you saw clear distinction in the quality of the candidates and, I think, some real benefit for Hillary Clinton. In this one, I suspect that it’s more of a holding pattern debate.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, your response?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, I think, on the one hand, the debate didn’t really convey the gravity of the threat of Trump. The fact that an all but open white supremacist and proto-fascist has a chance to take over the U.S. executive branch and free up the Paul Ryan agenda in Congress and an ultra-right agenda from the Supreme Court, that didn’t fully come through. However, I think there were some very important factual points that came out of it.

One was that I think Pence succeeded in exploding the idea that some people have that Trump—a Trump presidency would somehow be less lethal than a Democratic presidency. I mean, to begin with, both parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, are lawless. They’re willing to violate the domestic murder laws of every country in the world. They’re willing to violate international law. They’re willing to violate aggression—to commit aggression. They’re willing to continue the U.S. policy of trying to run—run the world. And it’s the case that, whoever gets elected, U.S. behavior overseas is likely to be even worse than it is now, in that Clinton is even somewhat more aggressive than Obama has been. But there’s been this notion around that Trump would somehow pull back from that. Pence made it clear: absolutely not. Trump has already, in essence, promised a new war with Iran, when he, one, promises to void the Iran nuclear deal; two, says he’ll sink Iranian ships if they taunt American sailors.

Now, in this debate, Pence essentially promised a military confrontation with Russia. Trump has gotten some credit from some by talking about how bad NATO is, which is justified, and by implying he would somehow be less aggressive in the Middle East. Well, Pence exploded both of those. Pence said he wants to put missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, which is precisely the number one priority of Russia to stop, which Russia has said repeatedly, if you do that, it leads to military confrontation with us. And then, secondly, Pence openly called for U.S. attacks on the Syrian army, which would be an even hotter military confrontation with Russia.

There’s the added dimension, which they didn’t talk about tonight, but which becomes even more menacing when you put it in this context, of the Trump policy of a return to the old U.S. policy of conquest for resources, like what the U.S. did with Iran in '53 with the coup to secure the oil for the Western interests, what they did with Guatemala in ’54, called in by the United Fruit Company to put the military in power and begin a mass slaughter there. Trump says, “Go in and take the oil.” Well, that has implications for many countries, especially for Venezuela. The next president is going to face inevitable confrontations with North Korea over nuclear weapons and with Venezuela, where the government is on the verge of collapse. Venezuela has the world's number one oil reserves, even greater than those of Iran, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia. With the Trump principle of “take the oil,” the outlook is even more ominous for a place like Venezuela than it would be under a Clinton administration.

On other issues, too, I think there were very significant statements. Pence attacked Kaine for implying that there was an element of racism in the massive police killings of African Americans, essentially saying, “That’s outrageous. How can you say there’s any racism involved?” Well, if you follow the logic of that, that means that in a situation where you have massively disproportionate police shootings of African Americans and you then say, as Pence was saying, that there’s no racism involved, that means you’re saying that those African Americans essentially deserved it, since so many more African Americans are shot in that manner than whites.

On Social Security, I think the remarks of both were very significant. Kaine merely said we have to protect Social Security. Pence merely said we have to meet the obligations. Now, those are both code phrases which have been used by those who are trying to cut Social Security in the name of cutting the—cutting the deficit. Kaine correctly pointed out that Pence has been a leader in the Paul Ryan movement to completely destroy Social Security, to privatize it. And nothing Pence said backed away from that. And Kaine didn’t even commit to preserving Social Security as it is and not cutting benefits, which Clinton has already done, so he actually took a step back on the issue.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to go back to John Nichols just to ask: What issues do you think should have been discussed in the debate that were not?

JOHN NICHOLS: There are so many issues that should have been discussed, and I think my colleague has just run through a lot of them. But let us go to, you know, some of the core issues here. We did not have a serious discussion about the economy in this debate. They literally, you know, talked over one another and sort of repeated some talking points, much of their time devoted to, you know, trying to figure out how much of Donald Trump’s tax returns have been released. But there wasn’t a serious discussion, for instance, about trade policy. And this is a significant thing, because both Mike Pence and Tim Kaine have been supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They only altered their positions or began to speak in tougher terms when they were put on tickets with people who are critical of the TPP. And so, it would have been very appropriate to have a deep discussion about that.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there.

JOHN NICHOLS: I also would like to have heard—

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds, very quickly—we’re going to have to leave it there. Five seconds, Allan, also the issue of climate change not mentioned at all.

ALLAN NAIRN: Right. And on TPP, either Pence or Kaine could have killed TPP, if they had simply come out and said, “We’re asking our members: Don’t allow a vote on it in the lame-duck session.” That would have killed it. Obama is going to push it. They chose not to kill it.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn and John Nichols, thank you so much for joining us.

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