How well did things go for Mike Pence and the Trump-Pence ticket tonight? Even Chris Matthews—no doubt to the horror of Rachel Maddow who was helping oversee the post-debate commentary on MSNBC—had to declare Pence the “winner.”

Perhaps even worse for the denizens of MSNBC and its viewers, Matthews said Pence looked “strong” and like a “grown-up,” whereas Tim Kaine came across as “desperate.” Ouch!

Of course, Matthews had to feed a bit of red meat to buck up the surely bummed-out MSNBC audience. And so he said that Pence had the harder task, dealing with a “couple of deuces” in having to defend Trump, whereas Kaine had a “full house.” But if Kaine really did hold such an overpowering hand compared to Pence, how horribly did he play his cards to lose the game?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think that Mike Pence did all the things right that Donald Trump did wrong. His body language was excellent, he was very good on reaction, he looked like a grown-up. Whatever his words were–of course he was playing with a couple deuces against a guy with a full house, so it was very difficult for him in terms of the issues, I mean, he had to defend Donald Trump. But he came across as a grown-up, strong . . . On the other hand, I thought at times, and I like the guy, Kaine, was a little bit, I don’t know what the right word is, a little desperate there, jumping in all the time, always trying to get his points and he didn’t wait his turn . . . But overall, I think the winner tonight will end up being, in terms of the debate and what they were trying to accomplish, Pence.