How Much Do Vice-Presidential Debates Matter?
Donald Trump knows all too well that Hillary Clinton has an edge on him, but could the billionaire’s political wingman come out in full force tonight? Yes, we’re talking about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who has the chance to bring some much-needed momentum to the Trump train.
We’ve seen dramatic moments play out in vice presidential debates before, where weakened presidential contenders get a jolt of confidence. When Vice President George H.W. Bush ungraciously offered to “help” Geraldine Ferraro understand the difference between the situations in Iran and Lebanon in their 1984 debate, the Democratic nominee for vice president retorted: “I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.” Snap.
Then, four years later, another Democratic VP nominee, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, landed his “you’re no Jack Kennedy” zinger on Republican opponent Dan Quayle in their debate, arguably giving his running mate Michael Dukakis a confidence boost. And who can forget the debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan in the last presidential election? It may not have affected voter preferences of the two tickets, but Biden’s strong performance (“With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey”) helped arrest the negative momentum following President Barack Obama’s disastrous performance in the first presidential debate.