Here are three of the top awkward questions that could cause fireworks Tuesday in the 2016 campaign's first and only vice-presidential debate and some background on each:
3 questions for Mike Pence
1) You are one half of a ticket that has made numerous controversial statements about women, minorities, entire religious groups. Before you became Donald Trump's running mate, you condemned some of his statements. Do you think Trump's rhetoric is inflammatory?
Throughout this campaign, Pence has repeatedly had to contradict some of his running mate's more controversial statements. He tweeted this in December, before he was Trump's running mate:
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
And just a week after accepting Trump's nomination, Pence defended Khizr Khan -- who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his son, an Army captain who was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq -- from criticism from Trump.
In fact, there are more than a dozen instances in which the two Republican nominees have diverged, often after Trump says something controversial. In the past, Pence has occasionally answered this question with references to how they say things a bit differently in New York. On Tuesday night, Kaine will be there to remind him that not all New York running mates sound like that.
2) On Monday, you lost a legal battle about whether you can refuse the resettlement of Syrian refugees in your state. A federal appeals court called your directive to avoid spending money settling Syrian refugees "discrimination" and based off "nightmare speculation." What's your response?
The court's decision was not good timing for Pence, who was among the 30 mostly Republican governors to try to ban Syrian refugees from their states after terrorist attacks in Paris in March in which attackers masqueraded as Syrian immigrants. But he was the only one to get sued over it.
And the three-judge federal appeals court panel found in no uncertain terms that Pence's attempt to block Syrian refugees was not legal. In an added dose of embarrassment for Pence, one of the judges who ruled against him Monday is on Trump's Supreme Court shortlist.
3) While you were in Congress, you voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. Hillary Clinton has since called her vote a "mistake," and Trump has made clear he thinks the war was a "mess" (although his assertion that he opposed the invasion before it began has been rated false multiple times by fact checkers). Do you think the Iraq War was a mistake?
After being picked as Trump’s running mate, Pence sidestepped a question by Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity about the invasion of Iraq: "I think that’s for historians to debate,” he said.
For what it's worth, Trump told CBS's Lesley Stahl in an interview in July that he didn't care about Pence's support for the war: "It's a long time ago. And he voted that way, and they were also misled."
3 questions for Tim Kaine
1) You have long said that the president needs new legal authority from Congress to continue strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But your running mate, Hillary Clinton, has disagreed. If you're vice president, will you push for a new Authorization of Military Force?
Kaine has become one of the most outspoken voices in demanding that Congress have a say on whether the president continues his military battle with the Islamic State. Right now, President Obama is conducting airstrikes and supporting local troops with an authorization Congress approved in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Obama has asked Congress to formally sign off on a new one specifically for battling the Islamic State. But they've avoided the thorny question, because politics. Kaine has not. He has argued that Congress is abdicating its constitutional powers by not voting on whether to approve the president's military force in Iraq and Syria.
And his position appears to be in direct contrast with that of Clinton, who has said she thinks the president can battle the Islamic State with Congress's 2001 authorization.
2) You personally oppose both abortion and the death penalty. And yet you have a record of defending or enforcing both. Is there a contradiction there?
This is a query often posed to progressive Catholic lawmakers -- one that Kaine has faced in the past. He personally opposes abortion and the death penalty, but in his long career in politics, he has defended a woman's right to choose, and many people were sentenced to death under his watch as governor of Virginia. He also has taken hits from Republicans for being too lenient on the death penalty. Republicans began running a controversial online ad Monday featuring two men convicted of murder whom Kaine defended as a lawyer.
His critics say Kaine makes choices that are politically expedient, while Kaine has said he prioritizes the law over his personal beliefs. In recent years, the question seems to have lost some of its political potency. It will be interesting to see whether it comes up during the debate -- and if it does, how Kaine handles it.
3) You also voted to give the president the authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and have said there is "much to like" in it. Yet when you became Clinton's running mate, you've gone on the record opposing it. Did you reverse your position on trade just to match Clinton's?
The populism politics in this campaign is pushing politicians who might support free trade -- both on the left and the right -- away from trade. For Kaine, this gets complicated. In August, Politifact looked at his claim that he always has been skeptical of Obama's signature trade deal and rated it as "half true":
Throughout 2015, he reiterated he would oppose the deal if it didn’t have strong environmental and labor provisions. But in July 2016, Kaine repeatedly praised TPP for including those exact protections. Days later, as Clinton’s running mate, he came out against the trade deal.
Clinton also has faced tough questions about her support for TPP: She helped sell the deal while secretary of state but has since said she doesn't support it.
Congress must decide after the election whether to approve the deal. Kaine has already made his call.