Kaine defends break with Clinton on abortion funding issue

Kaine defends break with Clinton on abortion funding issue
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (D-Va.) defended his split with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE on the issue of abortion funding during a tense spat about religion during Tuesday night's vice presidential debate. 

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Fending off criticism from Indiana's anti-abortion Gov. Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump trails Democratic challengers among Catholic voters: poll Sunday shows preview: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina The Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen MORE, Kaine stood by his support for the federal budget rule, called the Hyde Amendment, which his running mate, Hillary Clinton, has vowed to repeal.

Kaine, who is Catholic, again carefully refrained from embracing Clinton’s position on repealing the provision, which prohibits any federal dollars in Medicaid or other health programs from going toward abortions.

Kaine's position on abortion is one of the biggest policy splits between him and the Democratic presidential nominee — one that Republicans have seized on.

Pence, who is also deeply religious, had repeatedly sought to bait his opponent by pointing out that Kaine's support for the Hyde Amendment goes against Clinton's stated policies.

“It’s a principle that you embrace. I’ve appreciated the fact that you’ve supported the Hyde Amendment in the past, but that’s not Hillary Clinton’s view,” Pence, a vocal ally of the national anti-abortion movement, said.

Kaine says he is personally opposed to abortion but supports the legal right to one. He has earned a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood during his time in the Senate.

Earlier this summer, a Clinton spokesman told Bloomberg News that Kaine has privately said he would support repealing the amendment. Kaine has since said he would not reverse his position.

Instead, Kaine tried to turn the attack on GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE for saying earlier this year that women should be “punished” for abortions if they become illegal. Trump later walked back those comments. 

"We can encourage people to support life — of course we can — but why do we not trust women, why doesn't Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?" Kaine said.

“We don’t think [women] should be punished as Donald Trump said they should,” Kaine said.

“I think you should live your moral values, but the very last thing the government should do is have laws that punish women that make reproductive choices,” Kaine said, adding, “It is not the role of a public servant to mandate [his or her beliefs] for everybody else.”

Pence did not defend Trump for the remarks on punishing women.

"He’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton," Pence said. "I couldn’t be more proud to stand with Donald Trump, who’s standing for the right to life."