Democrat Tim Kaine goaded his Republican foe Mike Pence in Tuesday’s vice presidential debate over the way Donald Trump kick-started his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and criminals.
Kaine repeatedly pressed Pence to defend Trump’s remarks, at one point clearly irritating the Indiana governor.
“He started this campaign where he called Mexicans rapists and criminals,” Kaine said during a discussion early in the debate on the trustworthiness of candidates.
Kaine raised it again as they discussed respect for police, immigration proposals, national security and refugees and again on abortion.
“When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals or John McCain is not a hero, he is showing you who he is,” Kaine said.
That time Kaine's goading drew a retort from Pence:
“You whipped out that Mexican thing again,” Pence said, adding that there are “criminal aliens” who entered illegally and are perpetrating violence. Pence said, incorrectly, that Trump had also said “and many of them are good people” and accused Kaine of leaving that out.
But in fact what Trump had said in his campaign speech was “and some, I assume, are good people.”
The Clinton campaign made short work of Pence's "that Mexican thing" dismissal. The web address ThatMexicanThing.com redirects to a donation page for Hillary Clinton.
#ThatMexicanThing was also trending on Twitter early Wednesday, with many users hitting back at Pence over the phrase.
Missing from the first presidential debate, immigration was a sparring point between the vice presidential candidates Tuesday, with Kaine saying Republicans want to go “house to house, school to school and business to business” to “kick out” 16 million people.