Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence speaks during the vice-presidential debate with Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Mike Pence Sets Himself Up for 2020

Mike Pence won the debate. The only people who dispute this are aggressive partisans. He won, in part, by coming across as the reasonable adult in the room with a calm demeanor and in part by pretending Donald Trump did not exist.

It was obvious Tim Kaine was aggravated by Pence’s repeated denials that Trump had said things he very much did say. But Pence held his course steady and Kaine did his best impression of Trump in the last debate. Whoever told Kaine to pretend to be Trump should be fired and whoever suggested Kaine as Clinton’s VP nominee should probably be shot for political malpractice.

Tim Kaine was terrible. The only bit of Kaine’s performance that was redeemable was his left eyebrow.

Mike Pence showed his command of issues, his ability to deflect criticism, and his likability. He defended conservative values in ways Donald Trump never could. He was an outstanding, articulate spokesman for life issues. He finally denounced a Russia that his running mate praises.

If the GOP could reverse the ticket, they should. Trump, no doubt, is going to passively aggressively attack Pence because Pence outclassed Trump in every way.

A lot of conservatives, myself included, have suggested Mike Pence may need to be off the table entirely in 2020 just by accepting Trump’s offer to be the VP nominee. What we saw last night in Virginia was a redeeming performance that gives Pence the right to make his case in 2020. He will still have to explain why, after this abomination of a year, the GOP should not start with a clean slate. But he gets the right to make the case.

Mike Pence did well. He should give the establishment cause for comfort in 2020 and give conservatives cause for comfort as well. His defense of life was amazing and better than anything any Republican Presidential candidate has done since George W. Bush in 2000. His defense of small government and free enterprise was commendable.

After the Vice Presidential debate, the Secret Service will no doubt give Tim Kaine the codename “Vince Foster,” but the clock is now running on how long it takes Trump to subtly attack Pence for daring to be better.

The only major hangup for 2016 is that when the pollster calls tomorrow, he is not going to ask about Kaine and Pence. He is going to ask about Clinton and Trump and that is still a proposition Donald Trump cannot win.

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Erick Erickson

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