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NPR Politics Podcast Answers Questions On VP Candidates

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Over the past few weeks, our NPR Politics Podcast team has been taking questions from listeners, and tonight's VP debate has come up a few times. We're going to listen in now to some insights from NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben, Domenico Montanaro and Scott Detrow.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Let's start with a question from Josh (ph) in Waco, Texas. He writes, how badly would either candidate need to mess up to swing votes against them?

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: (Laughter).

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Yeah, they don't usually tip the balance in other direction.

DETROW: Yeah.

MONTANARO: You know, I think that there would have to be a ginormous mess up to even make huge headlines.

KURTZLEBEN: I wonder going into this if Mike Pence doesn't have a bit more of a burden placed upon him...

MONTANARO: (Laughter) I think he does.

KURTZLEBEN: ...Because, you know, I imagine he will be asked about many of the things that Donald Trump has tweeted, has said. And you know, asked, OK, so how do you feel about this?

MONTANARO: Yeah, just...

KURTZLEBEN: To see just how constant their views are.

MONTANARO: And I think that, you know, it's going to be a little bit of cleanup on aisle seven for Mike Pence because the Trump campaign, no matter what they're saying publicly, privately, they acknowledge and understand that their - that that first debate was not good for their candidate. And this is their next biggest opportunity to try to stop some of the momentum in the other direction as they try to prepare for that next presidential debate.

DETROW: Next up is a question from Sean (ph). Sean writes, where has Tim Kaine been? I feel like I constantly hear about Mike Pence on the campaign trail, but I've not heard much from Tim Kaine.

I feel like Tim Kaine has actually been campaigning a lot. One thing Tim Kaine has been doing is picking up more of the fundraisers lately.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, I think he just sort of gets overshadowed by, you know, the couple of other things that happen in the day-to-day news all the time.

MONTANARO: He's also simpatico with his principle. I mean he's in line with Hillary Clinton.

DETROW: Yep.

MONTANARO: So when that happens, then there's not much news that he can make, you know, as opposed to Mike Pence.

DETROW: Time Kaine agrees with Hillary Clinton again.

MONTANARO: Like...

KURTZLEBEN: (Laughter) Who knew?

MONTANARO: Like, Mike Pence winds up in these kinds of positions where he's having to defend his candidate.

DETROW: We're going to close out on a final question from Kevin (ph) in San Jose. It's about fact checking. Hey, y'all, Kevin writes. If the audience doesn't already know who's right, they're probably going to go with whoever they are already inclined to believe or who comes off as more believable in the moment. For most viewers, will falsehoods be cleared up in the media, consumed post-debate, or will most folks be left with whatever they decided in the moment during the debate? I really enjoy the podcast - Kevin.

KURTZLEBEN: Let me start with a couple caveats. First of all, like I said earlier, a lot of people just had their minds made up going into the debate. Nothing was going to really sway them. Furthermore, a lot of Americans don't even read fact checks or seek them out. And furthermore, lots of Americans don't trust the media. One third of Independents and Republicans as of 2015 said they did, according to Gallup, versus 55 percent of Democrats. So we're starting there.

And furthermore a lot of people who are misinformed are very confidently misinformed. Once you're dug in in your position, your brain will rationalize. It will take whatever new information you throw at it, and it has - your brain has a penchant for reassembling that information in a way that makes sense to your pre-existing beliefs. So it's really hard to change someone's mind.

DETROW: But you know what? Even if they don't seem to have a deep impact, NPR is pushing on like boats against the current of not reading fact checks by aggressively fact checking. So go to npr.org. We'll be fact checking.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MCEVERS: And they will be doing more analysis, too. Catch the VP debate edition of the NPR Politics Podcast tomorrow morning. Send questions you want answered on the podcast to nprpolitics@npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.