JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the race for the White House.
Thirty-seven million people, it turns out, watched last night’s debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. That’s according to Nielsen estimates. That is less than half the number of viewers who tuned in to last week’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Lisa Desjardins reports.
LISA DESJARDINS: The candidates at the top of the ticket returned to the trail one day after a contentious vice presidential debate. In swing state Nevada, Republican Donald Trump praised running mate Mike Pence’s debate performance.
DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: He was cool. He was smart. He was — I mean, you just take a look at him. He was meant to be doing what he’s doing, and we are very, very proud of Governor Mike Pence.
LISA DESJARDINS: Democrat Hillary Clinton had no public events, but traveled to Washington, D.C., for a fundraiser and to prep for the next presidential debate set for Sunday.
And it could be every bit as combative as the Kaine-Pence face-off. The statistics-driven 538 blog counted more than 40 interruptions from Pence, more than 70 by Kaine.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), Vice Presidential Nominee: She had a Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from foreign governments.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), Vice Presidential Nominee: You are Donald Trump’s apprentice. Let me talk about this…
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Senator, I think I’m still on my time.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Well, I think — isn’t this a discussion?
ELAINE QUIJANO, Moderator: This is our open discussion.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Yes, let’s talk about the state of…
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, let me interrupt — let me interrupt you and finish my sentence, if I can.
LISA DESJARDINS: But while Kaine may have lost style points for that approach, Democrats stressed that Pence didn’t always directly defend Trump’s record, including his refusal to release tax records.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Every president since Richard Nixon has done it, and Donald Trump has said: I’m doing business with Russia.
The only way the American public will see whether he has a conflict of interest…
GOV. MIKE PENCE: No, he hasn’t said that.
SEN. TIM KAINE: He has, actually.
ELAINE QUIJANO: Senator, your time is up.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Well, thanks. I’m just trying to keep up with the insult-driven campaign on the other side of the table.
SEN. TIM KAINE: You know, I’m just saying facts about your running mate.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Yes.
SEN. TIM KAINE: And I know you can’t defend.
LISA DESJARDINS: The Clinton campaign quickly put out a video ad contrasting Pence’s words with Trump’s.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Donald Trump said, keep them out if they’re Muslim.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Absolutely…
DONALD TRUMP: Total and complete shutdown of Muslims.
LISA DESJARDINS: But Kaine raised questions with his statement on the Iranian nuclear agreement negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry, but teed up by sanctions that Clinton brokered.
SEN. TIM KAINE: She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.
GOV. MIKE PENCE: Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?
SEN. TIM KAINE: Absolutely, without firing a shot.
LISA DESJARDINS: In fact, Iran did agree never to acquire nuclear weapons, but opponents of the deal point out Tehran will keep some nuclear ability and could renege.
So, with 34 days left, the campaigns are fighting over facts and fighting for every vote.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins.
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