WASHINGTON — Many viewers tuning into Tuesday's debate between Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana likely are still learning about the two vice presidential contenders, who have been overshadowed by the candidates at the top of the tickets.
Here’s a look at the vice presidential nominees.
Personality: Both Kaine, 58, and Pence, 57, are affable, with low-key, sunny demeanors. They’re known as nice guys, even by those on the other side of the aisle. Kaine has referred to himself as boring, while Pence often describes himself on the campaign trail as a B-list Republican celebrity.
Family: Kaine is married to an attorney who served as Virginia’s education secretary until Kaine’s selection as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. They have three children. Pence is married to an artist and teacher. They have three children.
Hidden talent: Kaine plays the harmonica. Besides doing a credible George W. Bush impression, Pence draws caricatures.Governing experience: Each has served as a governor and as a member of Congress (Kaine in the Senate and Pence in the House). Kaine has also been a lieutenant governor, mayor and city councilman.Election record: Starting with his first city council race, Kaine has won the eight races he’s run. Pence lost his first two bids for a House seat before winning six terms and being elected governor.
Job before politics: Kaine practiced law, focusing on civil rights cases. Pence, who also has a law degree, was a radio talk-show host and head of a conservative think tank.Childhood job: As a teenager, Kaine would pitch in with his brothers to get orders out for their father at the iron working shop he ran in Kansas City. Pence and his brothers filled tanks and washed windows at their dad’s gas station business in southern Indiana.Military experience: Neither has served in the military, but both have sons who are junior Marine officers.Political inspiration: Kaine has said he was drawn to matters of public interest during the political and social upheaval of the 1960s. Pence, who once served as Democratic youth coordinator for his county, embraced the GOP as an adult largely because he heard in Ronald Reagan “the manifestation of the kind of traditional American ideals that I was raised to believe in."Religious background: Religion has played a major role in both nominees’ lives and both speak openly about their faith. Kaine, who calls himself a traditional Catholic, took a year off from college to work with Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. Pence was raised in a devout Irish Catholic family and considered becoming a priest. Instead, he went to college, where he became a born-again Christian. He has said there’s no more important cause for him and his wife “than the cause of life.”
Political ideologies: Kaine, who represents the battleground state of Virginia, generally votes with fellow Democrats but has a reputation as a moderate. Pence is a strong fiscal and social conservative who led an influential group of House conservatives while serving in Congress and represents the GOP-leaning state of Indiana as governor.Ties to big donors: Both have fundraising chops. Kaine headed the Democratic National Committee before entering the Senate. His previous big donors include financier George Soros. Pence’s fundraising ability is one of the assets he brought to the GOP ticket. His previous big donors include industrialist David Koch.Support for top of the ticket: Kaine backed then-senator Barack Obama over Clinton in 2008 but was an early supporter of Clinton's 2016 bid. Pence endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in this year's GOP presidential nomination race before Indiana’s May primary, but Donald Trump said Pence praised him as much as he praised Cruz.Reasons for being chosen: Clinton chose Kaine over more liberal options, picking a highly respected and experienced politician who, Clinton said, is qualified from Day One to become president. The campaign also has used Kaine’s fluency in Spanish to reach out to Hispanic voters. Trump said he chose Pence to help unite the divided GOP. In addition to serving as a bridge to social conservatives and members of the Republican establishment who are wary of Trump, Pence also brings his skills as a disciplined communicator.Major issue switch: Both running mates had been strong supporters of trade agreements but modified their positions after being added to the ticket. Kaine was one of a minority of Democratic senators who voted to give President Obama expedited authority to negotiate trade deals. But after speaking positively about the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with Asian Pacific countries — and after becoming Clinton’s running mate — he said he shares her rejection of the deal as written. Pence had been a strong advocate of trade deals, including the TPP. But after becoming Trump’s running mate, he said he's open to renegotiating trade deals.Major issue recently known for: In the Senate, Kaine has repeatedly pushed for a resolution authorizing use of military force against the Islamic State. He’s argued that current actions go beyond what Congress has approved. Pence got national attention in 2015 for signing, and then agreeing to amend, “religious freedom” legislation that critics said would allow businesses to deny services to gays and lesbians.Criticisms of each other: Kaine has called Pence’s record on LGBT issues “anti-civil rights.” Pence has said he’s cut taxes in Indiana while Kaine pushed to raise them in Virginia.Popularity at home: A majority of Virginians have a positive view of Kaine, according to a weekly online survey by Morning Consult. A similar survey in Indiana showed Hoosiers are divided about Pence, with 45% disapproving of his job performance and 45% approving.
National popularity: Many voters nationally are still forming an opinion of Kaine and Pence, according to a national survey taken by Morning Consult in September. More than 40% had no opinion of Kaine and more than one-third said the same of Pence. Of those who did express an opinion, Kaine was viewed favorably by 28% of respondents compared with 34% with a good view of Pence. Thirty-one percent had a negative view of Kaine compared to 33% who didn’t like Pence.
Fact checks: Of the 39 Kaine statements reviewed by Politifact, 20 were rated “true” or “mostly true” and nine were rated “false” or “mostly false.” Of the 26 Pence statements reviewed, six were rated “true” or “mostly true” and eleven were called “false” or “mostly false.”