Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton loom large over vice presidential debate

FARMVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 04:  Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (L) and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (R) speak as debate moderator Elaine Quijano (C) listens during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on October 4, 2016 in Farmville, Virginia.  This is the second of four debates during the presidential election season and the only debate between the vice presidential candidates.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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FARMVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 04: Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (L) and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (R) speak as debate moderator Elaine Quijano (C) listens during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on October 4, 2016 in Farmville, Virginia. This is the second of four debates during the presidential election season and the only debate between the vice presidential candidates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FARMVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 04:  Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (L) and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (R) speak as debate moderator Elaine Quijano (C) listens during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on October 4, 2016 in Farmville, Virginia.  This is the second of four debates during the presidential election season and the only debate between the vice presidential candidates.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, left, and Democratic counterpart Tim Kaine, right, debate as moderator Elaine Quijano looks on at Longwood University. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

Even though Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were not on stage or even in the building here at Longwood University, they were consistently overshadowing their running mates throughout the duration of the 90-minute debate.

The Pence-Kaine matchup lacked the spectacularity of the first presidential debate, which drew a record 84 million viewers last week, according to Nielsen. But it took many cues from that first battle, including a multitude of personal attacks and a share of messy moments, with both candidates talking over one another and moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News.

The lion’s share of those jabs were pointed upward.

Kaine, Virginia’s junior U.S. senator, took a particularly aggressive posture early on in the evening, slamming Trump for his temperament amid a recent public feud with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. He said Trump’s actions, which included a 3 a.m. Twitter rant, were evidence of why he would make a poor commander in chief.

“Donald Trump can’t start a Twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot,” Kaine quipped before turning to Pence, who he said was trying to defend the indefensible.

The Indiana governor’s demeanor was calmer and more contemplative, and Pence was often forced to sit back as Kaine spoke over him.

A politician who made a name for himself in Indiana by disavowing negative campaigning, Pence shot back at Kaine’s comments that Trump has run a negative campaign by invoking a red meat rallying cry for Republicans.

“This ‘insult-driven campaign,’ ” Pence said, referring to Kaine’s wording about the Trump campaign, “that’s small potatoes compared to Hillary Clinton calling half of Donald Trump’s supporters a basket of deplorables.”

More: Kaine and Pence debate, but spotlight on Clinton and Trump

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