SACRAMENTO -- Going in, some might have billed the night as "Mr. Nice Guy" versus "Mr. Nice Guy," but in the end in Farmville, Virginia, things on the debate state weren't so nice.
"Why did Donald Trump say that?" questioned Tim Kaine as he stepped on a debate answer being delivered by Mike Pence.
His marching orders were to make Pence responsible for all things Trump for at least 90 minutes.
"He's not a polished politician," countered Pence, focused on his goal of defending the top of the Republican presidential ticket at the end of a rough month filled with everything from body-shaming Twitter fights with a former Miss Universe to the surprise release of secreted tax returns.
For the "No. Twos" on America's top two presidential tickets, it would be their only head-to-head battle in front of the American people.
In the first debate question -- one supposed to be about their fitness to step into the country's top job -- Democrat Tim Kaine threw the first off-topic barb.
"We trust Hillary Clinton as commander in chief. The thought of Donald Trump as commander in chief scares us to death," he said.
The debate watch party for the "veepstakes" was small at Christian, conservative William Jessup University in Rocklin -- just eight students.
That's down from the 35 who gathered for the first presidential debate.
At Mango's in Sacramento there was more interest in the bottom of the tickets.
About 40 people attended a watch party hosted by Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Objective minds in both rooms.
"Pence, uh, at first in the very beginning, did pretty well," said Paul Gordon from his seat at the Clinton event.
"As of now, I'm not supporting either candidate. I came in open," said William Jessup junior Mark Cullum.
Abortion rights -- something Kaine differs from Clinton on when it comes to federal funding -- fell in the "win" column for him with the Mango's crowd.
"Pence was beaten and Kaine just kinda kept jabbing him," said one man.
Speaking of the jabbing, interrupting developed into a signature of this debate just like that of the White House wannabes.
"You guys love Russia," said Kaine, cutting one of Pence's comments off early on.
Some in both camps were turned off by but the butting-in, while it was just what others wanted to hear.
"They're not really arguing about the issues. They're more arguing at each other," said Alexandria Tolman, a senior at William Jessup University.
"Kaine was a little bit aggressive in the very beginning," said Gordon, preferring when the Democrat settled down.
On the other hand, Clinton volunteer Christina Manning liked Kaine on the attack.
"Governor Pence said so many things that were wrong, that Trump has actually said, that Trump's been on record as saying. Senator Kaine called him out on that, and he just kept on denying," she said.