With the dust from a tit for tat over Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's presidential debate guest list having just settled, who viewers might find in the VIP section at Monday night's debate only became clearer in the hours leading up to the showdown. You might have been under the assumption that, along with immediate family members of the candidates — Bill, Chelsea, Melania, the Trump children — the other halves of Clinton's and Trump's tickets would surely be at Hofstra University on Monday night. In the case of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump's chosen vice presidential candidate, you couldn't be more right. As for the Democratic duo, Hillary will be rolling solo at the debate venue. So why isn't Tim Kaine at the debate? Hillary's choice for vice president actually has other plans.
Potentially a strategic move on the part of the Clinton campaign, the junior senator from Virginia will be attending a debate watch party in downtown Orlando, Florida. The event is scheduled to take place at Church Street Station, a dining and retail space in Orlando's Church Street district, and Kaine is co-hosting the watch party along with Hillary for Florida and the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization advocating for the rights of LGBTQ communities.
Kaine made an appearance in the Florida city earlier that day, meeting with Hispanic faith leaders at Orlando's Iglesia El Calvario church. And far from jet setting up the Eastern seaboard in time for the 9 p.m. ET debate, Kaine will instead be joined by Clinton in Florida once all is said and done at Hofstra. With Florida being recognized by both campaigns, as has been the case for elections past, as a battleground state offering much-desired electoral votes, Clinton has exhibited pointed efforts at spending significant time (and money) in the Sunshine State.
The Clinton campaign's decision to split up the duo for debate night isn't all that unusual, CNN reports. What is atypical is Pence's attendance in support of his running mate at the Hofstra University event. So why the choice to roll deep in New York on Monday? "[Pence] likes to be there for Mr. Trump in big moments," an advisor to the Republican vice presidential candidate told CNN.
With all the unknowns surrounding the showdown between the two candidates, Pence is spot on in his description of Monday night: a big moment.