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How The V.P. Nominees Differ From The Tops of Their Tickets

L: Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally Aug. 31 in Phoenix. R: Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine speaks at a campaign event Aug. 1 in Richmond, Va.
L: Ralph Freso R: Alex Wong
Getty Images
L: Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally Aug. 31 in Phoenix. R: Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine speaks at a campaign event Aug. 1 in Richmond, Va.

The vice presidential nominees, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will meet on the debate stage Tuesday.

It'll be two traditional politicians facing off in a non-traditional election year: Kaine as the safe and even boring choice by Hillary Clinton and Pence as the calm, unflappable balance to Donald Trump's bombast.

When it comes to the issues, Kaine and Clinton mostly agree. Among other things, they want to raise taxes on the wealthy, expand gun control legislation, and they both support President Obama's executive orders on immigration.

Pence and Trump, while wildly different in campaign style, agree that immigrants who enter the country illegally should not be granted amnesty, that abortions should be restricted, and that cutting taxes is the way to a healthier economy.

But on Tuesday night, some of the differences the VP picks have with their running mates may find their way into the spotlight.

Here are some issues where the two vice presidential nominees diverge from Clinton and Trump.

Tim Kaine

The Authorization for Use of Military Force

Clinton is sometimes referred to as hawkish. One example was her 2002 vote as a senator from New York in support of the Iraq War. Clinton has since said she "got it wrong."

Another example, again from the period following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which went into effect in 2001.

That military action gave the president the power to use force against groups that were involved in or aided the 9/11 attacks. It specifically mentions Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and also "associated forces." The Bush and Obama administrations have interpreted "associated forces" broadly. So far, AUMF has been used to justify action 37 times, including against ISIS.

Kaine believes the administration needs to seek re-authorization to continue its efforts against ISIS. Clinton said in a November CBS debate that she believes AUMF does cover ISIS.


As a traditional Catholic, Kaine says he personally opposes abortion. But he has also said he doesn't believe a woman's choice to have an abortion should be dictated by the state.

"The last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions," Kaine said on Meet The Press in June.

But as NPR reported, Kaine does support the Hyde Amendment, which banned federal funds from being used to cover abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or endangerment to the mother's life. Clinton, a longtime advocate for a woman's right to have an abortion, wants to repeal that amendment.

When asked about the policy split on CNN, Kaine said, "I can have my personal views, but I'm going to support the president of the United States."

Both politicians, however, have spoken out in support of Planned Parenthood. After he voted against defunding the organization in 2015, Kaine said that for many women, "Planned Parenthood health centers are their only source of high quality health care."

Mike Pence


In September, 2014, Pence used Twitter to advocate for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the free trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Pence tweeted that "trade means jobs, but trade also means

But Trump has made opposition to the TPP a prominent theme of his candidacy. The Republican nominee called the trade deal "a death blow to American manufacturing" in a June speech focused on the economy.

"Not only will the TPP undermine our economy," Trump said, "but it will undermine our independence. That's what's happened. The TPP creates a new international commission that makes decisions the American people are no longer given the right to veto."

LGBT Rights

In 2015, Pence signed a controversial "religious freedom" bill in Indiana. Critics said the law allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT people and the backlash was strong. Pence eventually signed an amended version into law.

Trump has appeared more amenable to LGBT rights. In an NBC interview, the GOP nominee said he was against North Carolina's ban on transgender people using public bathrooms that don't correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Although Trump has said he opposes gay marriage, this year's Republican National Convention marked the first time an openly gay speaker was given a prime-time slot to address the gathering. Also at the RNC, Trump directly referencedthe LGBT community.

"As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," he said in his acceptance speech.

Pence, on the other hand, has said gay marriage could bring about "societal collapse."

Planned Parenthood

Trump has expressed support for Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider, but has made his opposition to their abortion services clear.

"Planned Parenthood has done very good work... for millions of women," Trump said in March. "I'm a conservative, but I'm a common-sense conservative." Throughout the campaign, however, he has aligned himself with many Congressional Republicans who want to close off any sources of federal funding to the group as long as it provides abortion services.

As a member of the U.S. House, Pence sponsored the first bill to defund the women's health organization in 2007 and kept up opposition through 2011.

"Let the abortion providers provide for themselves," Pence told Politico in 2011. "I'd like to continue to be a persistent, respectful voice for the sanctity of life."

This post has been updated to clarify Trump's stance on Planned Parenthood funding.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meg Anderson is an editor on NPR's Investigations team, where she shapes the team's groundbreaking work for radio, digital and social platforms. She served as a producer on the Peabody Award-winning series Lost Mothers, which investigated the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States. She also does her own original reporting for the team, including the series Heat and Health in American Cities, which won multiple awards, and the story of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Black community and the systemic factors at play. She also completed a fellowship as a local reporter for WAMU, the public radio station for Washington, D.C. Before joining the Investigations team, she worked on NPR's politics desk, education desk and on Morning Edition. Her roots are in the Midwest, where she graduated with a Master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
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