During the vice presidential debate Tuesday night, there were many moments when the Democratic nominee Tim Kaine appeared nervous and snarky, interrupting his opponent Mike Pence and the moderator Elaine Quijano. On the other hand, Kaine frequently seemed to be better prepared on substance–particularly when Quijano asked the candidates whether America asked too much of its police officers.
This was the moment when Kaine did what he was supposed to, introducing himself to the country as a competent potential vice president: he showed that his record makes him qualified, offered solutions, and criticized Donald Trump.
Kaine outlined the lessons he learned about community policing during his time as city councilman and mayor of Richmond, as well as governor of Virginia.
You build bonds… between the community and the police force, bonds of understanding. When that gap narrows, it is safer for communities, and for the police. That model works across our country.
He criticized Trump for advocating for ramping up stop and frisk, saying it would be a “big mistake because it polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.”
He vowed that along with Hillary Clinton they would fight the “scourge of gun violence,” while at the same time appealing to gun rights supporters by declaring he was a gun owner. He brought up a moment that gained him a lot of bipartisan praise, and in a way shaped his political career: the aftermath of the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007: “we learned through that painful situation that gaps in the background record check system should have been closed and could have prevented that crime.”
But what really sold what he said was Mike Pence’s response, who got completely lost in a discussion of implicit bias in the criminal justice system.
Pence repeatedly said that people should stop accusing law enforcement of having implicit bias, suggesting that African-American police officers cannot be racially biased. This, researchers say, is not true.
Kaine responded, saying that “if you’re afraid to have the discussion, you’ll never solve it,” pointing to the “heartbreaking example” of Philando Castile, a black motorist who was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota earlier this year. What he did not mention in his discussion, however, is a specific solution to bias in policing: