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Wake Up To Politics - October 4, 2016

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

0 Days until the Vice Presidential Debate (9pm EDT)
5 Days until the Second Presidential Debate (Oct. 9)

35 Days until Election Day 2016 + my 15th birthday (Nov. 8)I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!

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There was no edition of Wake Up To Politics sent yesterday due to Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year. Shanah tovah to those who celebrate, and apologies to those who did not: I hope everyone still woke up OK. On to the news:

Election Central

  • Pence, Kaine to Meet for Less-Anticipated VP Debate Just over one week after presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in the most-watched presidential debate in history, their running mates, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, respectively, meet tonight for a much less-anticipated showdown.
  • The Pence-Kaine debate is a slow spot in one of the craziest and fastest-moving presidential cycles in recent memory. The VP candidates were both fairly "vanilla" picks, to complement the first female major party nominee and the first with no political or military eperience. As a result, both Pence and Kaine are middle-aged (the former is 57, the latter 58), white men with experience in Congress and as governors (Pence served as a U.S. representative and is now Indiana governor; Kaine served as Virginia governor, and is now a U.S. Senator.)
  • Since neither Pence nor Kaine have generated very many headlines of their own this election cycle, much of the focus in the debate will really be on the top of the ticket, as the No. 2 candidates serve as proxies defending statements made by Trump and Clinton.
  • In particular, Pence has the tall order of "cleaning up" for Trump's bombastic comments over the course of the entire campaign: topics from just the last week that he may be forced to discuss include Trump's early-morning tweets about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and a report that he may not have paid federal income taxes for 18 years.
  • Trump's bad week began last Monday with the first presidential debate, which wide majorities of viewers told polls that he had lost. Since the first debate, the race has swung to favor the Democratic-ticket: Clinton led by three to six percentage points in a raft of four-way national polls released Monday, by outlets including CBS News, CNN/ORC, Economist/YouGov, and Rasmussen Reports.
  • To stop Clinton's momentum and turn around the news cycle, Pence has prepared for his debate studiously, unlike Trump. The Indiana governor has held a number of lengthy mock debates, with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker playing Kaine.
  • Kaine has also been preparing with mock debates, facing against Democratic superlawyer Bob Barnett, who represents a number of high-profile clients (journalists, lawmakers Cabinet officials, foreign leaders, and former presidents and first ladies among them) and has played a role in every Democratic debate preparation since 1976.
  • In addition to answering for comments by Trump, Pence also has the opportunity to hammer Kaine with lines of attack that the billionaire neglected to mention last Monday. Pence regularly calls Clinton "the most dishonest person ever to seek the presidency" on the campaign trail, and will likely go after the Democratic ticket for Clinton's use of a private email server and for the access granted to Clinton Foundation donors at the State Department.
  • While Trump and Clinton may dominate, the debate also offers a chance for Pence and Kaine to introduce themselves. Despite their similarities, the duo also differ on a number of cultural issues. The evangelical Christian Pence and liberal Catholic Kaine have starkly different records on abortion, gay rights, and the death penalty. None of those social issues even came up when Trump and Clinton faced each other.
  • History shows that presidential races are rarely moved by vice-presidential debates, and with viewership expected to be way down from the presidential debate, it will be difficult for either candidate to break out tonight. There are, however, examples of memorable VP debate lines: "You're no Jack Kennedy" (Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle in 1988); "Who am I? Why am I here?" (Independent James Stockdale in 1992); and "that's a bunch of malarkey" (Joe Biden to Paul Ryan in 2012).
  • Even VP debates with more interesting candidates normally don't change the race, like the 2008 debate that pitted then-Sen. Joe Biden against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The Biden-Palin debate was the most-watched vice presidential debate in history (69.9 viewers), but ended up not offering any exciting developments in the race.
  • Tonight's debate, located at Longwood University in Farmville, Virgnia, will start at 9pm Eastern Time and last 90 minutes (no commercial breaks). The debate will be divided into nine segments, each lasting 10 minutes. Each segment will begin with an opening question by the moderator posed to both candidates, with the balance of the time in the segment to be used for further discussion of the issue.
  • CBS News digital anchor Elaine Quijano is the moderator of tonight's debate. She is the first Asian-American moderator of a general election debate, and much lesser-profile than the other moderators this cycle. Quijano will be closely watched to see if she remains partial, and if she fact-checks the candidates on stage.
  • The debate will be aired on the four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) and on several cable channels (including C-SPAN, MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, Univision, PBS, CNBC), as well as on Facebook (streamed by ABC News), Twitter (streamed by Bloomberg), and YouTube.
  • This will be Pence and Kaine's first face-to-face meeting, and their only debate of the cycle.
  • Today on the Trail While Pence and Kaine go head-to-head at Longville University in Farmville, Virginia, their running mates - and the VP nominees not included in tonight's debate - crisscross the country.
  • Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton campaigns in Pennsylvania, holding an event in Haverford at 12pm with her daughter Chelsea and actress/University of Pennsylvania alumna Elizabeth Banks and an event in Harrisburg at 3:45pm. The Keystone State is one of the most hotly-contested in the 2016 election, with recent polls giving Clinton a slight edge. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed Clinton leading by 4% in a four-way race in Pennsylvania.
  • In Kaine's absence from the campaign trail, a number of surrogates will campaign for the Democratic ticket in other key states, including First Lady Michelle Obama (in North Carolina) and former President Bill Clinton (in Ohio), as well as members of the party's progressive wing, such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (in Minnesota) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (in Nevada).
  • Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Prescott Valley, Arizona at 2pm. The Grand Canyon State is also a top battleground, expected to continue its historic GOP leanings and go for Trump in November. The most recent poll in the state, conducted by NBC/Wall Street Journal early last month, showed Trump leading by two percentage points in a four-way race.
  • In addition, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein will hold a 12pm rally at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg and a 3pm rally at The Lourie Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Stein's running mate Ajamu Baraka and Libertarian vice-presidential nominee Bill Weld were both invited to an "expanded debate" moderated by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, streaming online from 9-11:30pm. Baraka was the only candidate to accept the invitation, although Weld will be live-tweeting during the primetime debate.
  • The vice-presidential debate was open to the running mates of any candidate who qualified for the first presidential debate (which was open only to those receiving 15% in an average of selected polls). Only Trump/Pence and Clinton/Kaine qualified.

White House Watch

  • The President's Schedule President Barack Obama has no public events scheduled today: just a 3:45pm meeting with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
  • Following the First Lady Michelle Obama will campaign for the Clinton/Kaine ticket in North Carolina today, holding an event at the Charlotte Convention Center  at 12pm and an event at North Carolina State University in Raleigh at 3pm. According to the campaign, Obama will "lay out what is at stake in November, especially for young people, and urge North Carolinians to support Clinton and Kaine and register to vote ahead of the October 14 deadline."

Daily Data

  • Unknown vs. Unknown While one would be hard-pressed to find an American who didn't known the names "Donald Trump" and "Hilary Clinton" - or even someone without an opinion of either - Mike Pence and Tim Kaine don't enjoy such notoriety.
  • In an ABC News poll released late last week, 41% of respondents could not name Pence as the Republican vice presidential nominee and 46% could not name Kaine as the Democratic vice presidential nominee. In addition, an AP/GfK poll released last week found that 47% of respondents didn't not have a favorable or unfavorable view of Pence; 54% had no opinion of Kaine.
  • Their largely unknown quantity means both candidates start tonight's debate on equal footing. 38% of registered voters said they think Pence is "likely to do a better job" in the debate, and exactly 38% said the same about Kaine.

Smart Reads

Today's Trivia

  • Today's Question Who were the candidates in the first vice-presidential debate?
  • Friday's Question The trivia question from Friday asked for the U.S. Army's official motto. The answer: "This We'll Defend," referring to the Army's duty to defend the United States and her citizens. The motto was first used by the Continental Army in 1776, and is included in the official U.S. Army logo.
  • GREAT JOB...Joan Zucker, Steve Gitnik, Cathy Boland, Joe Bookman, Beth Adams, Marlee Millman, Matt Neufeld, Lori Magno, Janice Goodman!
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, and on StoryCorps; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki"; and read about Gabe in Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.