When vice-presidential nominees Mike Pence and Tim Kaine face-off for the first and only time Tuesday night, progressives hope the Republican candidate's right-wing record will be exposed for all its extreme ugliness.
Pence, who currently serves as governor of Indiana, "is famously—or infamously—right-wing, and a particular darling of far-right Evangelical voters," as Common Dreams reported when GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump chose him as his running mate in July.
"[Donald] Trump, whether he wins or loses, is an anomaly. Dangerous men like Pence are here to stay long after 2016."
—Emily Arrowood, US News & World Report
And while Pence's major challenge on Tuesday night is to "be the great normalizer," transforming Trump's bombast into something more palatable to mainstream conservatives, journalist John Paul Brammer reminds readers in an op-ed that "a President Pence is nearly as scary as a President Trump."
From pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation to supporting so-called "conversion therapy" to attacking women's rights, Pence "has displayed a willingness to uncritically adopt the kookiest, angriest, most deranged positions of the far-right wing of his party," Mark Joseph Stern wrote for Slate on Tuesday.
Should we talk about Pence slashing taxes for the extremely wealthy and battling a minimum wage increase while preventing local governments from implementing paid sick or family leave? Or his dozens of votes in Congress against bills designed to protect endangered species, clean air, and safe drinking water? Naturally, Pence denies the existence of climate change; he also rejects evolution and supports the teaching of creationism in public schools. The fact that these positions haven't gotten more attention—that Pence is still seen as the more rational and benevolent man on the ticket—is an illustration of how anyone can seem competent when compared with Donald Trump.
He also has a long history of fighting to cut and privatize Social Security, which led Nancy Altman of progressive group Social Security Works to declare ahead of the debate: "It is imperative that debate moderator Elaine Quijano question Mike Pence tonight about his Social Security record. Pence's support for drastic cuts to Social Security's already modest benefits is far outside the mainstream, totally out-of-step with what numerous polls show is the will of the vast majority of Americans."
Meanwhile, early Tuesday morning, David Sirota of International Business Times reported that "[a]s casino industry cash went around Indiana's anti-corruption laws and into groups supporting Pence's campaigns, the GOP governor used his power to help gambling interests"—despite having publicly opposed an expansion of gaming in his state.
"While Trump has promised throughout the 2016 presidential campaign that his personal wealth would insulate his administration from donor influence, his running mate's actions on the gaming issue challenge that pledge," the investigation pointed out.
Indeed, U.S. News & World Report assistant editor Emily Arrowood wrote Tuesday:
In many ways, Pence is the more dangerous man on the GOP ticket. Trump has no real policy positions or principles—nothing constant, really, beyond siding with those who last fluffed his ego and against those who last hurt his feelings on Twitter.
Pence, on the other hand, represents just how far right the modern day Republican Party has swung. "The most conservative vice presidential nominee the country has seen in 50 years," hailed the American Conservative Union. Trump, whether he wins or loses, is an anomaly. Dangerous men like Pence are here to stay long after 2016.
On social media, groups and individuals added to the chorus seeking to expose Pence's extreme record:
— National NOW (@NationalNOW) October 4, 2016
Pence has been at forefront of right-wing attacks on women's health, LGBT rights, immigrants and refugees...https://t.co/Y4DqlAT9Tj
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) October 4, 2016
Worth remembering: Mike Pence is one of the nation's most viciously right-wing Govs, and would be a shocking VP pick in any non-Trump year.
— Teddy Goff (@teddygoff) October 4, 2016
— Immigration Council (@immcouncil) October 4, 2016
— Louise Melling (@LibertyLouise) October 4, 2016
— Lindsay Crudele (@thelindsayist) October 4, 2016
To that end, Planned Parenthood released the following video on Tuesday highlighting Pence's "obsession" restricting access to healthcare:
"When Donald Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate, he sent a clear message about just how much he's prioritizing his opposition to women's health care," said Dawn Laguens, head of Planned Parenthood Votes, the political arm of the organization.
"Mike Pence has been obsessed with ending access to Planned Parenthood for nearly a decade—and he's promised that's exactly what a Trump-Pence administration would do," she said. "Voters need to know about Pence's long record of outrageous, unacceptable hostility to women's healthcare so we can defeat the Trump-Pence agenda this November."
The debate begins Tuesday night at 9pm Eastern, and runs 90 minutes without any commercials.