Image Credits: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

For the past week, Farmville, Virginia has been in full swing getting ready for this one and only vice-presidential debate between Senator Kaine and Governor Pence. The students of Longwood University were able to sign up to volunteer last school year.  I was one of those students. My job was a Fox News media assistant where I had the privilege to meet and learn from producers from Fox and Friends to Shepard Smith to Bret Baier. These people were not only down to earth, but also friends with the anchors.  This little piece about them is why Fox News staff work together well. When game day came, you could feel the excitement in the air all around town.  The whole town of Farmville had the debate spirit in their heart.

Last night’s debate was one for the books. Last night on his show, Jimmy Kimmel joked about the vice presidential debate held at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. “Earlier this evening you may have seen, though you probably didn’t, the VP debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. Two mild mattered and well-groomed men handpicked by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to make you hate them less and what a matchup it was!” While Kimmel’s show is a comedic one, he isn’t far off from what the two candidates aspired to do.

Longwood University gave their students 101 seats throughout the debate hall.  This happened through a student lottery. To my great surprise, I was blessed to be one of those students to win a debate ticket to watch the two candidates battle it out. While waiting for everyone to get seated, many exciting people shuffled in. Some of these people were Jesse Jackson, an activist throughout the Civil Rights Movement, Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe, United States Senator Mark Warner, and Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring.  While I went up to talk to all of these politicians and met them, I realized I hadn’t talked to one Republican. I was outnumbered in the crowd.  The debate started and many heard the disconnect that so many Americans are having with the Democratic influence our nation has moved in through the last eight years. It was encouraging to realize I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.  Many others feel the exact same way I do.

The debate was very educational due to the well thought out questions the moderator, Elaine Quijano, had for both candidates. There were a few unsuccessful moments where the audience wanted to say something out loud, but refrained and murmured it under their breath. One of those times was when Pence was interrupted by Kaine 72 times and didn’t get reprimanded. However, Kaine was interrupted by Pence 37 times. Because of how many times the Governor was interrupted, it seemed like Quijano focused more on Pence’s interruptions than Kaine’s. In my opinion, if Trump interrupted the moderator as much as Kaine did last night, there would be an uproar over social media.  Trump would be labeled as a sexist, bigot, or some other slanderous name. Despite the interruptions, Senator Kaine brought up malicious words Donald Trump has called people while on the campaign trail.  Governor Pence wasn’t shy about bringing up Hillary Clinton and her foundation, emails, and her stance on pro-partial abortion.

If you were to ask me who I thought won, I couldn’t give you an answer. Why? Both candidates made the audience in the debate hall really think about both sides – maybe a first in this election. Why do I say that? We have two presidential candidates – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – running for office that used to be friends.  Now they go at each other on camera like kindergartners. This debate was a breath of fresh air because both vice presidential candidates had substantive discussion on the issues and how their candidate would try to fix them.  

I commend Senator Kaine and Governor Pence for this debate.  I thank Longwood University, a small little town, for hosting it. This experience only made me more certain of the idea of serving my country in public office one day. After the debate, I went up to both Democratic and Republican candidates.  I shook their hand, thanked them for being respectful, and showing us a civil debate – rather than a fighting match between siblings. Both seemed humbled and appreciative of my comments.

This election cycle is not an easy one to say the least. Times have been tested, words have been exchanged, and voters have become disheartened. However, even if Jimmy Kimmel was making a joke, he was right about something. Both Trump and Clinton have made smart choices in who they chose for running mates to unite their parties. After last night, it may have started to work.

Kaitlin O