Today's vice-presidential debate between the two lame, boring dad types Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump chose as their running mates turned into a bit of a mess.
Moderator Elaine Quijano, a CBS news anchor, quickly lost control of the discussion as Clinton's vice-presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, and Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, constantly talked over each other.
Kaine was the main offender. He interrupted Pence's very first answer several times and continued to defy Quijano's pleas for civility throughout the 90-minute debate.
"The viewer at home cannot understand either one of you when you talk over each other," Quijano said at one point, clearly exasperated. "Gentlemen, please."
Viewers across the political spectrum reacted harshly, particularly to Kaine's performance, saying he came off as rude, nervous and aggressive, among other things.
The moderator has lost all control of this debate already. Kaine cannot control his mouth. What a train wreck. #VPdebate— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) October 5, 2016
Kaine needs to be careful. There is a fine line between fulfilling his role as attack dog & coming across as rude & aggressive #VPDebate— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) October 5, 2016
PENCE: now let me finish-— erin chack (@ErinChack) October 5, 2016
KAINE: -can I just-
PENCE: may I finish my-
KAINE: isn't this an open discus-
Kaine was clearly trying to fulfil the political "attack dog" role, which often falls to America's vice-presidential nominees. In both of Barack Obama's election campaigns, for instance, Joe Biden was the one who attacked and mocked Obama's opponents most vociferously.
The thing is, Biden could pull it off without being utterly unlikeable. Kaine? Not so much. Not so much.
Pence is coming off like a pro. Kaine is coming off like a husband who is very enthusiastic about couples therapy but who is bad at it.— Eliot Nelson (@eliotnelson) October 5, 2016
Tim Kaine interrupting like a wild man. Not good.— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) October 5, 2016
Pence, meanwhile, managed to remain calm and reasonably dignified, which was enough to earn him praise from pundits - and his boss.
Trump spent the duration of the debate tweeting, as is his wont. Among the highlights was a retweet of someone saying Kaine "looks like an evil crook out of the Batman movies", which in all fairness was pretty accurate.
Kaine can of course take solace in the fact that hardly anyone watches vice-presidential debates and they decide roughly zero votes on election day.
Still, he managed to come off pretty badly. Kaine lobbed so many "zingers" about Trump - including some comedic misfires - that Pence called out the feisty Democrat's "pre-done lines".
What do we mean by "zingers"? Think Bill Shorten during our election campaign.
As the debate opened, Kaine asked how Pence could defend the "insult-driven, me-first style of Donald Trump." As Pence questioned Hillary Clinton's record as Secretary of State, Kaine interrupted: "You really are Donald Trump's apprentice." Geddit? Because Trump hosted The Apprentice? Hilarious!
Kaine later riffed on Trump's "America First" campaign motto, calling his economic proposal "really a Trump-first plan".
Some of Kaine's one-liners sounded a bit forced to say the least.
"Do you want a 'you're hired' president in Hillary Clinton or a 'you're fired' president in Donald Trump?" Kaine asked at one point, appropriating Trump's signature line from, you guessed it, The Apprentice. Pence scoffed and shook his head.
"First, let me say, I appreciated the 'you're hired,' 'you're fired' thing, Senator. You use that a whole lot, and I think your running mate used a lot of pre-done lines," Pence said, referring to Clinton's debate performance last week.
A moment later, however, it was Pence with the cringe-worthy line.
"There you go again," Pence said flatly, when Kaine talked about Republicans wanting to privatise Social Security. That line was made famous by President Ronald Reagan in his 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter. It worked a lot better for Reagan.
Either the Republicans were very confident in Pence's chances before the debate, or someone made an embarrassing mistake.
Two hours prior to the showdown, the Republican Party's website posted a blog titled "Who Won the Vice Presidential Debate".
Don't bother watching the debate. Pence won. pic.twitter.com/Pa6iG6ymGY— Bob Mayer (@Bob_Mayer) October 5, 2016
It declared Donald Trump's running mate Pence the "clear winner", and even noted some of his "top moments" from the debate. They included "the economy" and "highlighting Hillary's scandals".
"Americans from all across the country tuned in to watch the one and only vice-presidential debate," the story read.
"During the debate we helped fact check and monitor the conversation in real time. The consensus was clear after the dust settled, Mike Pence was the clear winner of the debate."
After the premature declaration was spotted on Twitter, the page was taken down. Oops.
- With AP