Why Isn't Tim Kaine Looking At The Camera During The VP Debate? The Set Up Is Unusual
During the vice presidential debate on Oct. 4, a lot of viewers compared Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine's delivery of their answers and wondered why Tim Kaine didn't look at the camera during the debate. The answer might be a lot simpler then you'd think. Unlike the presidential debates, and unlike most televised or attended political debates, the vice presidential debates take place at a round table with both candidates seated. Not only is the setup a bit unusual, but as viewers can see by visiting ABC's live online coverage of the debate, there are a total of eight cameras in the multi-camera setup, which may make it difficult for the candidates to know which one to address.
That being said, it does appear as though Kaine tends to address debate moderator Elaine Quijano or Pence rather than address the front-facing camera, where most major network coverage has been focused throughout the debate. However, it might not be an accident that Kaine is avoiding the camera — depending on the type of media training Pence and Kaine have received, they may have been told to avoid or attempt to look into the camera to address the television audience. It's pretty clear from reactions on Twitter that some audience members prefer eye contact with the camera, whereas others find it discomfiting.
Typically, candidates in debates make eye contact with the front-facing cameras — both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made an effort to shift between looking at each other and the camera during the first presidential debate — but odds are, in the heat of the moment, candidates are more focused on addressing each other's concerns and interruptions than the camera. And anyone watching the vice presidential debate between Pence and Kaine can attest to the fact that it has involved plenty of interruptions between the two candidates.