Raising Kaine over his falsehoods in TV interviews
© Greg Nash

Largely overlooked in the hard-to-avoid campaign coverage have been the running mates of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Hickenlooper announces Senate bid MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE.

Their names are Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE and Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceIceland's prime minister will not be in town for Pence's visit Trump's latest plan to undermine Social Security Nikki Haley voices 'complete support' for Pence MORE. Both have been in the political arena in relatively big roles dating back at least 15 years. And most Americans — we'll generously call it 8 of 10 on an educated guess — outside the political/media bubble could identify them by name if presented a photo.

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Both are what one would seem traditional politicians. Both appear to be nice guys, fathers of good kids and quality husbands. If the race were Kaine vs. Pence, while it would likely seem tedious compared to the circus that is Clinton-Trump, it would be relatively civil and — in some bizzaro universe — actually focused on issues and contrast.

So it was interesting to watch Kaine — a 22-year political veteran who has conducted hundreds of interviews as governor of Virginia and as former head of the Democratic National Committee — stumble so badly in interviews today on CNN and CBS, respectively.

In four words, he should know better.

The first involved an interview with Chris Cuomo of CNN's "New Day." Cuomo decided at one point to tackle the issue of sanctuary cities in reaction to Donald Trump's speech in Phoenix Wednesday night that included shutting them down.

And Kaine — perhaps channeling his inner Clinton — decided to say this of their existence. Per the CNN transcript:

"Look, I — I — I was a mayor and I was a governor. I trust the voters of communities to hold their mayors and their police departments responsible," Kaine explained. "When Donald Trump kind of goes after these phantom sanctuary cities and talks about how bad they are, basically what he's going after is police chiefs."

Cuomo, a skilled interviewer, caught the use of "phantom" sanctuary cities and challenged.

"But why do you say 'phantom'?" Cuomo asked. "You know there are places that refuse to cooperate with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and they have their assembly of different reasons for why they do it, but sanctuary cities are real.

"They exist. They're not phantom."

And Cuomo is correct. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are currently 32 sanctuary cities in the United States.

Kaine didn't retract and went on a tangent that didn't remotely address Cuomo's challenge of his characterization of sanctuary cities not existing. Result: The only soundbite replayed later from the interview consisted of Kaine denying the existence of sanctuary cities.

Not good.

The second interview was with "CBS This Morning," which mirrors "New Day" in terms of being more of a hard news program and analysis, as opposed to the fluffier fodder of its network rival in "Good Morning America."

Co-host Demarco Morgan (filling in for Charlie Rose) asked Kaine why Trump takes questions after most public appearances — including during his trip to Mexico — while Clinton ignores reporters in the same situations.

“Senator, this was Donald Trump's first meeting with a head of state as the nominee and he immediately opened up the floor to reporters for questions," Morgan said. "When will we see Hillary open up the floor and take questions from reporters at any event?”

Kaine's response echoed the unintentional comedy of a talking by the campaign heard in recent weeks.

“Well, you see Hillary take questions from reporters every day. She does — she talks to the press everywhere she goes.”

O'Donnell jumped in incredulously: "Really?"

Dan Merica of CNN — who has been embedded in the Clinton campaign for well more than a year — had the same reaction on Twitter.

Kaine continued with an outright falsity: "She did a press conference when she was at the recent meeting of the African-American and Hispanic newspaper publishers.”

For starters, Merica and O'Donnell are correct: Clinton almost always ignores reporters' questions on the campaign trail. And the "press conference" Kaine is referring to were questions not from the working press at the event — which was barred from asking questions — but from event moderators.

There's a reason every major media outlet puts the number of days since Clinton's last press conference at 272 days. That includes The Washington Post — no fan of Trump — who even keeps this handy running clock right down to days and minutes.

In a related story, my wife had both my 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son at Day 272 of her pregnancy (about 39 weeks). And Google says one can walk across Mother Russia at a reasonable pace in 272 days ... with 22 days to spare.

Translation: 272 days is a very long time.

Kaine doesn't get much attention in this campaign. Nor does Pence. The latter has been performed solidly with few unforced errors with the media, which is no small feat when considering all the curve balls Trump presents he needs to defend or deflect. If Clinton wins, Pence should be at the top of the 2020 pack.

But Kaine — a veteran, a pro — has been shaky at best.

And Thursday showed exactly why: He apparently has the same issue with the truth as Clinton — and can't sell it the way her husband so effortlessly did.

Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.


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