Last night Indiana Governor Mike Pence did exactly what he needed to do He showed conservative Republicans that not only was he one them, but moreover, he showed them that he was not, Donald Trump.
Not only that, he has a college degree and great Presidential candidate hair!
The far right swooned over Mike Pence back in 2015 when he, and his fellow Republicans thought they had found a way to strike back at the advance of LGBT rights, under the banner of "Religious Liberty." It is the claim that If you don't let people discriminate against certain groups (Gays) in public accommodation, it is a violation of freedom of religion. Because their religion says those certain groups (Gays), are icky, and going to hell.
Despite bad press, the move rallied social conservatives who, were feeling rather bruised and battered in the wake of recent advances in LGBT rights. It made Mike Pence an even bigger hero in many of their minds and hearts. Rumblings of a "Draft Mike Pence" movement for 2016 started to be heard in places far outside of Indiana.
Yet when the resulting backlash and business boycotts cost Indiana hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tourist, convention and business investment revenue, Pence's Presidential aspirations fell faster than hotel bookings in Indianapolis. Many pundits at the time said that Pence's moment had clearly come and gone.
Pence knew that Donald Trump was indefensible, so he did the only thing he could. He didn't even try.
Faced with facts, Pence didn't even attempt to spin them, instead he went to the "Conservative Happy Place". That magical land that exists only in the right wing mind, where negative polling numbers are "rigged", outrageous statements, even when caught on video, simply didn't happen, and "far right" is always right. So any inconvenient facts, no matter how easily proven, can be denied.
Mike Pence's debate performance was the political equivalent of the Shaggy song "It Wasn't Me." Only in this case it was "It Wasn't Him" (Trump)
Last night's debate was a textbook study of the American political dialogue for the last 8 plus years. Democrats point out the reality of what is said, proposed and believed by Republicans. Then in response, Republicans flat out deny everything they have said, proposed and done. What is left, is two people having two completely separate conversations, where one side is obsessed with detailing the facts, and the other is equally obsessed with pretending they don't exist. So any chance of finding solutions or common ground becomes pretty much impossible.
As a result, Conservatives watching totally ate it up. Mike Pence has once again become their smooth silver haired telegenic champion against all those liberally biased "Facts". Pence even went out of his way to channel the spirit of the great Conservative patron saint, Ronald Reagan.
The Washington Post summed Pence's performance pretty well....
So weeks still to go before the 2016 votes are cast, let alone counted, let the posturing for 2020 begin....