Will Pence’s play to Hoosier Hospitality woo moderate voters?

Co-written by Michael Terlep, VOX Indianapolis 

For decades we’ve known that debates are about far more than policy. We need only look to the Nixon-Kennedy debates for a perfect example of that fact.

So, what exactly was Mike Pence’s task in the debate? How was he supposed to successfully appeal to voters that have been anything but shy in their opposition to some of the core tenets of the Trump-Pence campaign?

For the Indiana Governor, lawyer and former radio talk show host, it was simple: appeal on style and hold fast to safe rhetorical terrain. In short, Mike Pence put his version of Hoosier Hospitality on display for the American people.

While plenty of Hoosiers have been vocal in sharing their critiques of the Pence administration, most Americans were getting their first real glimpse of Mike Pence conservatism.

As governor, Pence pushed a ban on accepting Syrian refugees in the state (recently blocked by a federal appeals court), a high profile fight to limit abortion, a controversial religious freedom bill, but he also expanded Medicaid with a conservative twist on Obamacare and pursued a tight fiscal budget, ending the 2015 fiscal year with a $210 million surplus.

But the controversial elements of Mike Pence’s record weren’t on obvious display this week. Though distancing himself from some of Trump’s foreign policy views, Pence stuck rather closely to the core tenets of Trump’s platform, just without the rough edge. He emphasized law-and-order, a conservative fiscal policy, and a tough immigration plan.

Pence appeared thoughtful and suave, unphased by Tim Kaine’s relentless attacks. And importantly, Pence was polite. He interrupted Kaine far less than Kaine interrupted him, and hurled fewer attacks at his opposition. He rarely raised his voice, and was both civil and modest.

Pence even managed to paint Kaine and the Clinton campaign with the ‘avalanche of insults’ label, despite significant reporting on Trump’s penchant for name-calling. In other words, Pence was the complete opposite of Donald Trump in his rhetorical approach.

And that’s precisely why Pence ‘won’ the vice presidential debate. While day-after coverage has exposed Pence on substance, he came out ahead on style.

The Pence bet? If his running-mate is having trouble attracting or reassuring undecided moderates, a little Hoosier Hospitality just might.

Will Pence’s play to Hoosier Hospitality woo moderate voters?

Co-written by Michael Terlep, VOX Indianapolis
For decades we’ve known that debates are about far more than policy. We need only look to the Nixon-Kennedy debates for a perfect example of that fact.
So, what exactly was Mike Pence’s task in the debate? How was he supposed to successfully appeal to voters that have been anything but shy in their opposition to some of the core tenets of the Trump-Pence campaign?
For the Indiana Governor, lawyer and former radio talk show host, it was simple: appeal on style and hold fast to safe rhetorical terrain. In short, Mike Pence put his version of Hoosier Hospitality on display for the American people.
While plenty of Hoosiers have been vocal in sharing their critiques of the …

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