NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Perhaps even more so than issues, the Vice Presidential debate between Sen. Tim Kaine and Gov. Mike Pence on Tuesday night was marked by interruptions. In fact, there were so many interruptions — on both sides — that CBSN’s Elaine Quijano, the debate’s moderator, was forced to intervene on a number of occasions.
When the candidates sparred over Donald Trump’s tax returns, for example, the back-and-forth grew so unruly that it became difficult for viewers to understand what either nominee was saying.
“Donald Trump has filed more than a 100 pages in financial disclosures, which is what the law requires,” Pence said.
“But he said he would release his tax returns,” Kaine quickly shot back
“Gentlemen, I need to ask you about Social Security,” Elaine Quijano interjected.
“Richard Nixon released his taxes while being audited,” Kaine continues as Pence objected in the background and Quijano tried to moderate the debate.
“Gentlemen, the people at home cannot understand either one of you when you speak over each other,” Quijano insisted.
Unfortunately, that fiery exchange was far from an isolated incident. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that the conversation on social media was dominated by comments about debate decorum and whether the candidates each truly got their fair share of time once all of the interruptions were taken into account.
That makes the operative question is: Who interrupted who more?
To determine that, CBS News went back through each section of the Vice Presidential debate and conducted an informal count of every time a candidate interrupted his opponent during his two minutes to respond to a question. Here are the results:
Part 1 (Opening statements): 0 Kaine, 0 Pence
Part 2 (Trustworthiness): 6 Kaine, 4 Pence
Part 3 (National debt and Trump’s taxes): 7 Kaine, 5 Pence
Part 4 (Social Security): 2 Kaine, 0 Pence
Part 5 (Law enforcement): 4 Kaine, 2 Pence
Part 6 (Immigration): 5 Kaine, 2 Pence
Part 7 (Terrorism ): 9 Kaine, 6 Pence
Part 8 (Syria): 3 Kaine, 4 Pence
Part 9 (Russia): 12 Kaine, 10 Pence
Part 10 (North Korea): 5 Kaine, 1 Pence
Part 11 (Abortion, social issues): 7 Kaine, 3 Pence
Part 12 (Closing statements): 0 Kaine, 0 Pence
Totals: 60 Kaine, 37 Pence
When the tallies are all added up, the numbers show that Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine spoke out of turn nearly twice as many times as his opponent. And Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was quick to point out this discrepancy, slamming Tim Kaine for his interruptions in post-debate interviews by calling his demeanor “unhinged” and “unfortunate.”
Clinton spokeswoman Karen Finney told the AP that Kaine’s job was to “stand up for” his running mate at the only vice presidential debate. She said she thought Kaine’s style “got under Gov. Pence’s skin.”
As far as debate decorum is concerned, however, these sorts of interruptions may have become more the norm than the exception. So, the “unhinged” and “unfortunate” party may be the American political system as a whole, not one of its players.
And now it’s on to Sunday, where Clinton and Trump will spar anew in St. Louis.