Number twos debate number ones

Tonight’s vice presidential debate will be fun to watch but let’s do the post-debate analysis now: It will not affect the election. It will not change your thoughts about the presidential candidates.

These Number Two debates seldom, if ever, matter. Tonight’s, even less so because they will spend their 90 minutes going back and forth defending and attacking their bosses. Mike Pence, the GOP VP pick, has the harder job. But Tim Kaine’s is no walk in the park either. While neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton will be there, they will be the stars of the show.

The bulk of the questions likely will be about Trump and Clinton, more than Kaine or Pence, or issues. That is what our political debates have become this year. A dive to the bottom.

There is plenty of fodder for questions on Trump, and that’s before the last week when even more gas was poured on that fire: paying no taxes for nearly two decades, having his self-heralded foundation now told by the New York attorney general to cease-and-desist while he waits for the foundation to, finally, register itself so it can be legal, Trump’s battle with a former Miss Universe over her weight, etc. etc. and so forth.

And that’s not counting Trump may say this afternoon.

Both VP candidates are qualified — Pence more so than Trump. On his side, Pence will deflect, praise his boss and take questions and turn them on Clinton.

These actually are two pretty substantive guys — but you likely won’t get an insight into that tonight.

Pence could use the opportunity to try to shift the day-to-day coverage, which is all Trump all the time, to more on Clinton (would be nice if he or Kaine tried to change the topic to our lives, not theirs). It will be a heavy lift because the momentum has shifted in the days since the presidential debate, but it can be done — there’s plenty of ammunition to be aimed at Clinton.

I don’t know that Pence will tackle Hillary’s husband’s faults, not normally his style, but we’ll see. Seems to be his boss’ desire. I think most of the country has discounted Bill’s marital infidelities already. And the younger voters, who weren’t around during those years, already are turned off by this election so I’m not sure where that gets the Republicans this go-round.

I think whether people like it or not they should accept that Hillary loves Bill. Why else would she still be with him? It’s not for political expedience because he’s more a rock around her neck than not and the wise political move would have been to walk away from him at some point.

VP debates are probably better known for a good line one candidate or the other gives off — “You’re no Jack Kennedy!” being one of the best. Even when it was a substantive and respectful debate (Cheney vs Lieberman) it didn’t make a whit of difference.

This one won’t make a difference either.

But I’ll watch.

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog:

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