Vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine will face off on Tuesday night

By Stephanie Petit
Updated October 04, 2016 02:59 PM
Credit: Heidi Gutman/ABC; INF Photo

With just 35 days until the election, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence are stepping into the spotlight as they prepare for Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate.

While their face-off will almost certainly be less boisterous than last week’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both vice presidential candidates have something to prove in the match-up – and each will have to defend the top of his ticket.

Pence, 57, faces a big challenge at the debate. It’s expected he will be forced to defend the Republican nominee’s refusal to release his tax records in the wake of a New York Times story from the weekend outlining a nearly $1 billion loss and suggesting he may not have paid federal income taxes for 18 years beginning in 1995.

He’ll also likely have to explain Trump’s comments on Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe winner whom Clinton brought up at last week’s debate as a way to demonstrate his perceived sexist attitude toward women. The Democratic nominee said Trump had referred to Machaco as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”

The Indiana governor will also have to justify his own actions and views, many of which contradict Trump’s. He’s tweeted about his opposition to Trump’s boycott of Muslims, writing, “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” He also voted for the Iraq war, which Trump claimed to oppose in last week’s debate (despite evidence to the contrary), and previously praised NAFTA, which Trump called “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country.”

While Pence tries to defend his running mate’s many controversies, Kaine, 58, will have to do the same.

“Hillary’s record on foreign affairs alone could literally take up the entire 90 minutes and it wouldn’t be pretty,” Pence told supporters Monday night.

The Virginia senator will likely have to answer tough questions about Clinton’s use of a private email server, criticisms of her handling of the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and ties between the Clinton Foundation and her tenure as secretary of state.

According to post- debate polls, Clinton has a five-point lead over Trump, which likely means Kaine’s job will be to keep the focus on Trump’s flaws rather than his own ticket.

While Trump and Clinton’s debate was full of interruptions, zingers and fireworks, the vice presidential debate is expected to be less explosive. However, viewers can expect that both candidates will try to convince voters that their running mate is the right choice for the top job.

The vice presidential debate airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET. Check your local listings.