By Margarita Artoglou
While there was some media coverage of Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate in the days leading up to it, the event did not garner anything close to the hype received by the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Indeed, the New York Times said that this VP debate is one of the lowest-interest debates of all time.
The reason for this: no one really cares that much. This year’s vice presidential nominees are, simply put, bland old white guys. Of course, the selection of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia by Hillary Clinton and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana by Donald Trump was done on purpose. In an election where both nominees are such high-profile figures, it makes sense to choose running mates who do not add to the controversy.
Kaine and Pence were certainly not known on the national level prior to the announcements that they would be joining their respective parties’ presidential tickets. On the campaign trail, neither of the men have proven to be particularly exciting.
Furthermore, the interest in the second-in-command position itself is not as intense, evidenced by the fact that the vice presidential candidates only get one debate.
Perhaps there should be more interest in this particular debate, though.
The 2016 election features the oldest candidates in history — should Trump win, he will be the oldest president to take office, and should Clinton win, she will be the second oldest. It is in America’s best interest to ensure that the elected VP is up to the task.
Still, the vice presidential debates probably have not swayed many voters in past elections and most likely will not this time, either.
The debates are, however, a great opportunity for the vice presidential candidates, who usually take a backseat in all the action, to show how savage they truly are.
Walter Mondale got the ball rolling in 1976, when he called his opponent Bob Dole a “hatchet man.”
In 1984, Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, a Fordham Law alumna and the first woman to be on a major party ticket, snapped back at George H. W. Bush for his “patronizing attitude” during their debate.
Then, in 1988, Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas verbally slayed Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana after the young senator compared himself to President John F. Kennedy. Bentsen delivered this famous zinger: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
I am still stunned as to how Quayle was able to stand on the stage for the remainder of the debate after such destruction.
VP hopefuls of the distant past were not the only ones to bare their fangs for their one and only debate. Many people remember watching Vice President Joe Biden call Congressman Paul Ryan’s answers “a bunch of malarkey” during their 2012 debate.
A few years before that, Vice President Dick Cheney embarrassed Senator John Edwards by calling out the Edwards’ terrible attendance record in the Senate, going so far as to let the entire country know that Edwards’ hometown newspaper had taken to calling him “Senator Gone.”
While vice presidential debates are usually inconsequential in regard to polling numbers, the event is Kaine and Pence’s time to shine.
This is the biggest event of their political careers. It is important for VP candidates to bring their A-game and take out their claws so that political junkies like me can reference their snappy comebacks for years to come.