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The VP debate: A battle of ‘over-caffeinated accountants’

Democratic candidate for Vice President Tim Kaine (L) speaks as Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence looks on during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia on October 4, 2016.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images


By Chris Hannay (@channay) and Rob Gilroy (@rgilroy)

The Globe Politics is pleased to include a roundup of news and opinion on U.S. politics, through until this year's election in November. As always, let us know what you think of the newsletter. Sign up here to get it by e-mail each morning.

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U.S. Election 2016

> Vice-presidential debate: The Globe and Mail's David Shribman says Tuesday night's debate between Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine and Republican candidate Mike Pence "had the tone of a colloquy of over-caffeinated accountants." Shribman says both candidates got off some well-rehearsed zingers, but it was, overall, a performance that probably won't move the dial for most voters. "An educated guess is that it mattered very little."

> In the Washington Post, John Wagner says Kaine relied too much on pre-rehearsed lines, and "turned in a performance that threatened to undermine the image of authenticity that has been one of his greatest strengths."

> Also in The Post, Dan Balz writes that the debate "offered the possibility of a more civil and sober conversation about issues that divide the two national party tickets. … But for much of the evening, it was a boisterous proxy war by a pair of running mates whose goal was to take down the other's presidential nominee." … And Dana Millbank says "Republicans watching Pence's strong performance Tuesday night had every reason to kick themselves. Had Republicans chosen a mainstream conservative like Pence … there is every reason to believe that candidate would be leading Clinton."

> The Huffington Post, under the headline "Mike Pence to America: Trump never said those things he said" offers a fact check to the Republican's debate comments.

> Frank Bruni of The New York Times says Pence " answered the question of how a man who supposedly prides himself on his virtue defends a running mate who is often bereft of it. … Substantively, it was galling. Strategically, it may well have worked." … The Times also says Pence "showed a deftness that Mr. Trump often lacked at his own debate last week … Neither candidate made significant errors through the night, meeting the baseline test of not doing any harm to the top of the ticket."

> The trouble with taxes: Also at Vox, Matthew Yglesias says Trump's response to the disclosure of his 1995 tax return – and the nearly $1-billion loss it revealed – was worse than the story itself. "Faced with a moderately embarrassing news cycle, Trump cocooned himself with sycophants who broadcast the message that losing a billion dollars was actually brilliant."

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> The bedrooms of the candidates: At Vox, Laura Kipnis goes deep on the issues around Donald Trump's threats to bring up the marital infidelities of former president Bill Clinton. "Maybe it's a mirror of our own conflicts about sex and fidelity we're seeking, precisely to have the kinds of conversations we're currently having. Wasn't it always obvious that Bill Clinton's so-called 'character issues' were part of the attraction, that he was elected twice not in spite of his glaringly apparent flaws as a husband, but because of them?"


> All four Atlantic premiers are Liberals, and the party swept every riding in the region in last year's election, but Justin Trudeau still has some work to do winning over the provinces on his carbon pricing plan. Nova Scotia, for one, has already aggressively cut emissions from its electricity sector and is on track to meet reduction targets without any help from Ottawa. "Nova Scotians have been punching above their weight when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint," Premier Stephen McNeil told The Globe.

> The Liberal government is softening its stand on revoking citizenship over misrepresentation on applications, after it was discovered that the information about cabinet minister Maryam Monsef's early life was not entirely accurate.

> The Liberals have rejected an NDP bid to give MPs more power to scrutinize the export of Canadian military goods.

> The Hill Times says Parliament Hill reporters are finding the Liberal government more responsive to questions than the previous Conservatives, though the bureaucracy still has catching up to do.

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> And Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier (he of the jingle) is now evoking Mad Max in his campaign.


André Picard (Globe and Mail): "Canada can get out front and help establish the rules in the brave new world of medical science with a few strategic investments, or it can sit idly by and play catch-up later. Ultimately, we know which is better for the health and well-being of Canadian science, and Canadians' health."

Lawrence Martin (Globe and Mail): "Everything is still left versus right in our politics. Liberal governments lay anchor in the centre, while trying to reach out to both flanks. It's the art of the compromise. They bank on Canadians, who are by and large moderately inclined, to buy in. On the important energy/environment file, the Liberals will let the arm-flapping moralists on the left go all green, while the right hardlines it on resource extraction."

Paul Wells (Toronto Star): "Justin Trudeau's Senate upheaval foreshadowed, as we are now seeing, his management style in general. He may take a long time to decide, but when he does, you sure notice the decision. If there are noses out of joint, let them be out of joint. It's how he replaced one Clerk of the Privy Council with another. It's how he made climate policy this week. The announcement takes only a minute. The consequences take years to play out."

Tim Powers (Hill Times): "Yet here is where the fun ends. Brad Trost is doing himself or the Conservative Party no favours. While he might like the attention, it showcases him not as a leader but vindicates Stephen Harper's choice to keep him on the backbench for all those years."

John Ivison (National Post): "At this early stage in the [climate policy] proceedings, it looks like the Liberals have gotten away with it. The provinces that matter are onside, largely because the carbon price proposed by the feds is so modest it will cause no disruption for any of the sitting governments in this electoral cycle."

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