McCormack Speaks

Reflections on the Vice Presidential Debate


by Aroon Manoharan
Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs

The focus of the election has mostly been on the presidential candidates, beginning even earlier than the primary elections conducted by both political parties. However, this election cycle has thrown up quite a few surprises with the candidates, their positions, and statements and claims made during the campaign trail. The vice presidential debate was a great opportunity to clarify some these positions and provide more policy insights to their candidatures.

Largely unknown to most of America till recent weeks, the two candidates Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence got the opportunity to speak directly to the American public to promote the positions of and reinstate the confidence in their presidential nominees. This is not a light task as the VP candidates really need to be their running mates’ voice and come all out in support of their position and experience, while at the same time not over-shadowing the presidential candidates.

The debate on Tuesday night was clearly a clash of personalities and neither candidate seem to directly elaborate on the policies of their running mates. Instead the candidates were more focused on explaining many of the statements (and tweets) made by their presidential nominees during the recent election campaigns. Although these are important and do need to be clarified, the debate stage was an opportunity missed by both to strengthen their candidates’ positions and reinforce confidence among the general public. Although they seemed to have moderate effect on the American public in influencing their opinion on their running mates, their performance in the debate would probably energize their respective bases which still seem to have not come around in complete support of their respective candidates.

Aroon P. ManoharanAroon Manoharan (PhD, Rutgers University -Newark) is an associate professor and director of the Global Comparative Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School. His area of research is public management, with primary emphasis on e-government, the use of information technology to deliver government services, integrate and transact government business, and enable citizen participation in government.

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