WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Less than one day after Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine met for their single debate of this election cycle, nearly all attention has already turned back to the top of the ticket.
Most polls found that Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Pence of Indiana won the debate (48%-42%, according to CNN) thanks to his calm demeanor and ability to hopscotch around tough questions regarding his running mate Donald Trump’s assorted controversies.
Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine set out to be a guard dog for Hillary Clinton, but came off as a junkyard dog, too eager to rip into his composed opponent sitting just across the table.
Having said that, no bombshells or “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moments occurred, so within hours the focus reverted to Trump and Clinton.
Naturally, the two nominees praised their lieutenants’ performances, knowing they’ll be back in the hot seat come Sunday evening.
Trump preps harder
Despite claiming victory in his first match up against Clinton, Trump is said to privately acknowledge that he must improve his game for their second meeting.
The billionaire is reportedly taking on the task with renewed vigor, determined to avoid temperamental and rhetorical mistakes he repeatedly made last week.
Trump is hitting a few cities in battleground state Nevada on Wednesday, then has cleared his public calendar through next Monday, likely setting aside that time for preparations and mock debates.
The GOP nominee lambasted Clinton for reserving several days for debate prep last time around, but now appears to be employing a similar strategy before their second face-off.
Standing in the gap will be Pence, who is spending Wednesday and Thursday in Pennsylvania, trying to find a foothold in the critical state that polls increasingly suggest will break in Clinton’s favor.
Clinton goes dark
President Barack Obama was scheduled to campaign with Clinton in Florida on Wednesday, but had to cancel due to the looming threat posed by Hurricane Matthew.
The Democratic nominee didn’t rush to fill her schedule, favoring additional time to prepare for Sunday’s debate.
Clinton is a dedicated student, making no secret of her affection for detailed briefing books and challenging mock debates.
In the meantime, Chelsea Clinton is stumping all over Michigan for her mother, who leads in the state, in a bid to lock up its 16 electoral votes.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is also putting in extra hours up north, campaigning for Clinton in Minnesota. The progressive senator won the state in a landslide during the primaries, and will do his best to fire up supporters while Clinton takes some time off from the trail.
Focus shifts to rematch
Since the vice presidential showdown didn’t do much to move the 2016 dial overall, anticipation and pressure will be high, yet again, when Clinton and Trump square off this weekend.
Republicans are hoping Trump will be more presidential and less peevish.
Democrats have their fingers crossed for another Miss Universe moment that can knock their opponent off course for the next week.
The second presidential debate will be a town hall at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, on Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales