It was dubbed as the flap before the scrap. The one and only televised American vice-presidential debate was more about putting the money on Pence who was more than a refrain for Kaine.

The 90-minute, knock their leaders down and drag 'em out affair, was held in the tiny town of Farmville which is seen as a spit on the Virginia map with a dark past. It's where the Civil War ended and where segregation lingered longer than almost any other place in the United States, where they closed down the public schools in the late 50s rather than integrate them.

So that was the backdrop for what's being predicted as the Presidential war to settle the score, or the brawl to end it all when Donald Trump squares off for the second time against Hillary Clinton next Monday, New Zealand time.

At the end of the stoush between Indiana Governor Mike Pence in the Trump corner and Senator Tim Kaine as the Clinton running mate, you couldn't help but think, why weren't these two men the main proponents to take the White House?


Ironically in temperament Pence was more like Clinton while her buddy Kaine was more Trump, only with a little less panache. But unlike Trump, both men had clearly been in training for their outing in the three star, one horse town.

Pence frequently had to defend the indefensible, like why Trump had been avoiding tax for the past 20 years while building his billion dollar business. He said his boss went through a very difficult time and used the tax code just the way it was supposed to be used, and did it brilliantly.

Without declaring his tax returns though, the first Presidential hopeful to refuse to hand them over for the past 40 years, it's difficult to gauge what sort of job he did, or for that matter, how much he's really worth.

And then on the touchy subject of abortion, and Trump's assertion that women should be punished if they go down that track, pro-lifer Pence was again left dry mouthed, declaring his boss would never countenance punishing women who made the heart breaking choice to end a pregnancy.

Kaine, also a pro-lifer, wanted to know why he said it then and was unconvincingly told by Pence that Trump's not a polished politician like Clinton and her sidekick, hardly a ringing endorsement.

But while the defence of Trump, and his scattergun tongue, was always going to be an impossibility, Pence scored plenty of haymakers on Hillary, on foreign policy, withdrawing troops from Iraq and opening the door to Isis and on the economy and the ballooning national debt.

The Republicans will now no doubt be hoping that Trump will have listened and learnt something from his running mate, at least as some sort of preparation for his next outing.

Barry Soper is the Political Editor for Newstalk ZB