Hiller Instinct: Vice presidential debate preview

BOSTON (WHDH) - In a race where we know the presidential candidates by their first names, many voters can’t name Tim Kaine or Mike Pence, though Tim Kaine is a senator and Mike Pence a governor.

In addition to introducing themselves to America, both have do’s and don’ts.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has the tougher job, because he’s the guy cleaning up after Donald Trump. He needs to put the “sus-Pence” back into the race by being precise and prepared and improving the image of the GOP’s ticket. And he should “Storm The Hill,” taking every opportunity to attack Hillary Clinton’s record and avoid talking about Trump’s.

Conversely, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine can’t let that happen. He should dump on Trump, challenging his fitness to serve in the Oval Office, while deflecting any questions about Hillary Clinton’s record. And he has to “Raise Kaine” about the Republican party and tell young and white male voters how the GOP will hurt them.

For tonight’s debaters there are also traps to avoid, which are connected. For Kaine, the biggest don’t is don’t be her. We’ve seen Hillary Clinton. You’re supposed to be the warm and fuzzy one. Please show it! We could use it! Above all, don’t mess it up. If the election were today, polls say you’d win. Don’t change that storyline.

For Pence, a big don’t is don’t be him. In fact, be the opposite of Donald Trump. Be gracious, thoughtful, you get the point. But your top don’t is don’t make it worse. Don’t try to turn this around by yourself–you can’t.

I confess; this is not the debate of the century and I can’t tell you if it will change any votes. But I’ll watch–because you never know.

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