What Republicans needed most from the vice presidential debate was a respite from bad news, at least momentarily. Mike Pence gave them that.
The Indiana governor, in his scrappy encounter with Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, came across as reassuring, reasonable and conservative in ways that, before Donald Trump came along, Republicans had grown to expect. After Trump's own poor debate performance and subsequent behavior helped to lengthen Hillary Clinton's edge in the poll, that came as a balm for nervous Republicans running for House and Senate seats.
Representing the ticket holding a clear lead, Kaine entered the debate under less pressure. Yet he followed an aggressive strategy nevertheless, sometimes to his detriment.
Known for his geniality by political friends and foes alike, Kaine repeatedly interrupted his rival by reciting derogatory statements by Trump about immigrants from Mexico and women, among others. More than once, moderator Elaine Quijano of CBS News chided him for doing so.