After the VP debate, Regis students debated whether faith and politics should intersect

Mike Pence speaks to crowd after Town Hall at Mile High Station. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

By James Anderson and Dake Kang, Associated Press

It wasn’t the headliners, but some political groupies took time Tuesday to gather and watch the vice presidential candidates debate.

The 90-minute showdown is the only time the two will face off: Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana.

The contest was expected to have a much smaller viewership than last week’s first meeting between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which drew a record-setting television audience of 84 million people. But some voters said it was well worth their time.

“One of them will be the second most powerful person in the world … it’s very important to hear what they have to say,” says Carson Clabeaux, 21, a senior at the University of Scranton and president of the school’s Republican club.

“I should be studying — but you can always study. There’s only one VP debate, so it was important for me to come see this.”

Here in Denver, a small group of students at Regis University, a Jesuit school, debated whether faith and politics should intersect after the vice presidential debate left most still undecided who they’ll vote for.

Both vice presidential candidates are deeply religious, Kaine a Catholic who served as a missionary with the Jesuits in Honduras from 1980 to 1981, and Pence an evangelical Christian who fought against Planned Parenthood funding while in Congress and signed a state law that many people saw as allowing discrimination against gay people.

“Tim Kaine tried to keep faith away from our politics,” said Tim Smith, a freshman focusing on education who plans to vote for the Democratic ticket. “I think he did that. Mike Pence definitely is not that way. He wasn’t really at all about separation of church and state.”

“Religion does say who we are,” countered Chad Deline, a sophomore economics major and head of Regis’ Republican club. “Mike Pence is pro-life, and it showed tonight, and I support that.”

Watch party organizer Daniel P. Justin, who teaches philosophy and religious studies, urged students to reflect on where faith’s place is in this election — and politics in general.

“The question is: How does faith animate and influence your political life?” Justin said.