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On the roster: Pence shows Trump how it's done - Time Out: Big shoes to fill - Hillary’s campaign chair defends Bubba’s ObamaCare critique - Audible: Whip it good - The ultimate stash

PENCE SHOWS TRUMP HOW IT'S DONE
FARMVILLE, Va. – What’s the right way to respond in a political debate when somebody calls your running mate a misogynist creep, a tax cheat, an “erratic” hot head and an admirer of dictators?

Trick question: you don’t

Donald Trump and his team were live tweeting during Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate from Longwood University. Republicans ought to hope that Trump was taking notes too.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence turned in an able and sure-footed debate performance against a wound-up Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. And while nothing likely happened in Southside Virginia that will change the trajectory of the race that much, Pence showed his boss how it’s done.

That’s not to say that Kaine had a catastrophic outing. A big part of the job as a running mate or vice president is to be a forgettable attack dog. [Ed. Note: attack otter?]

And Kaine’s hyperactive opening act will be forgotten, just has he likely would be in a Clinton presidency. Plus, Kaine made sure no one could forget who Pence’s running mate was.

Pence also probably did some material good for Trump in shoring up support from traditional conservatives. The Hoosier skated far away from his and his party’s differences with Trump on foreign policy, tariffs, debt, spending and Russian ruler Vladimir Putin. Rather than trying to reconcile the differences, Pence ignored them.

Overwhelmed moderator Elaine Quijano was certainly not going to be fact checking anyone, let alone controlling their time. So Pence answered the questions he wanted, not the ones that were asked and rather coolly took control of the situation.

Reticent conservatives considering sitting out the election or voting for a minor party candidate may have felt more Trump positive after hearing Pence articulate a Republicanism of the Reagan-Bush era.

But the most important thing that Pence did here was to show Trump the way to deal the debate format.

Trump is facing a defining moment on Sunday at Washington University in St. Louis. Trump certainly survived his first outing, but a repeat performance of his irritable and off-message showing at Hofstra University last week would probably take him out of the game.

The good news for Trump is that his low-passing grade in the first debate, augmented by media hyperventilation about his loss, has kept expectations low. Even a marginal improvement would be considered a comeback, especially for a political press always desperate to write a new narrative.

Pence’s ability to absorb attacks, coolly deflect them and get back on message is not something Trump can learn in four days. Pence is a career politician and a former radio host with a deep understanding of policy.

But, Trump can take something from Pence’s philosophy which is that the only fish that get caught are the ones that rise to the bait.

THE RULEBOOK: MORAL CERTAINTY AND CONFIDENCE
“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 68

TIME OUT: BIG SHOES TO FILL
In the era of tennis shoes for everything, most Americans today give little thought to where their shoes come from, let alone the origin of the styles or even the word. Author Marina Warner, writing for the London Review of Books, talks about her mother’s special pair of brogues and what the shoes and the style meant to her and to our culture: “It was 1945, and supplies were thin: my grandmother lay in her bed to keep warm under her crimpled eiderdown, longing for sweets (and other stimulants). Emilia Terzulli, always known as Ilia, had never left Italy before, and when my father got back, arriving at Southampton from Ceylon (as it then was) on the Queen Mary, which had been requisitioned as a troop-ship, and they were reunited, my 42-year-old father took her – perhaps as a present for her 23rd birthday – to be fitted for a pair of shoes at Peal & Co, a family firm famous for its clientele: Humphrey BogartMarlene DietrichFred Astaire! The Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson! Each customer was measured, and the findings entered in a series of ledgers known as the ‘Feet Books’; the bespoke shoemakers then modelled wooden lasts to be used to make the shoes; these effigies were labelled with the client’s personal number – my mother’s was 289643 – to be kept in the firm’s store for use when the next pair was ordered.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions

SCOREBOARD
Average of national head-to-head presidential polls: 
Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +3.8 points
[Polls included: CBS/NYT, CNN, Fox News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +3.4 points
[Polls included: CBS/NYT, CNN, Fox News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.]

HILLARY’S CAMPAIGN CHAIR DEFENDS BUBBA’S OBAMACARE CRITIQUE
The Hill: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair is dismissing backlash over Bill Clinton’s Tuesday comments on ObamaCare, saying that the Clintons are on the same page when it comes to the healthcare law. ‘She said that there are things that need improvement, including lowering the price of prescription drugs, protecting people from excessive out of pocket costs,’ John Podesta said of the Democratic presidential nominee Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe." ‘But no, she thinks it’s been a success and we need to continue to it, we need to build on it, and I think that’s President Clinton’s position as well — that’s what he really believes, his colorful language notwithstanding.’ The former president on Wednesday critiqued ObamaCare at a campaign rally for his wife in Michigan, calling the health law ‘the craziest thing in the world.’”

AUDIBLE: WHIP IT GOOD
“Senator, you whipped out that Mexican thing again.” - Gov. Mike Pence counterattacking Sen. Tim Kaine in Tuesday's debate over bringing up past remarks Donald Trump has made.

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Poll: Clinton’s lead slips in Ohio – Monmouth University Polling Institute 

The journey of a Trump true believer: 'Finally. Someone who thinks like me.' - Chicago Tribune

David Drucker explains that Tuesday's debate was a glimpse of what could have been for the GOP this cycle - WashEx

Trump asks why Hillary didn't change tax laws to prevent him from using such a loophole - Politico

Kaine defends himself on breaking with Hillary on abortion - The Hill

Clinton Foundation amends N.Y. filing - WSJ

Al Gore to campaign for Hillary in the coming weeks - The Hill

Pence defends Trump immigration plan despite setbacks in Hoosier state - TIME

Everybody but Trump won veep debate - New Yorker

Trump’s son says his dad ‘absolutely’ paid income tax – The Hill

Phillip Bump: How the presidential race would end if the election happened right now - WaPo

‘From the Bleachers’ will be back tomorrow - Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

THE ULTIMATE STASH
NatGeo: “Archaeologists are hailing the discovery of an ‘extraordinary cache’ of cannabis found in an ancient burial in northwest China, saying that the unique find adds considerably to our understanding of how ancient Eurasian cultures used the plant for ritual and medicinal purposes. In a report in the journal Economic Botany, archaeologist Hongen Jiang and his colleagues describe the burial of an approximately 35-year-old adult man with Caucasian features in China's Turpan Basin. The man had been laid out on a wooden bed with a reed pillow beneath his head. Thirteen cannabis plants, each up to almost three feet long, were placed diagonally across the man's chest…Radiocarbon dating of the tomb’s contents indicates that the burial occurred approximately 2,400 to 2,800 years ago. This discovery adds to a growing collection of archaeological evidence showing that cannabis consumption was ‘very popular’ across the Eurasian steppe thousands of years ago, says Jiang.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace."  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.