May 21, 2024

Vice Presidential Debate follows chaotic 2020 pattern

The Vice Presidential debate follows in the footsteps of earlier, chaotic Presidential debate.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Vice President Mike Pence wave before the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Vice Presidential debate was another night of interruptions, question dodging and Susan Page embracing her new career as a doormat all with a special guest star.

Vice Presidential candidates Sen. Kamala Harris and current Vice President Milke Pence were the debaters. Susan Page, a veteran of White House reporting and USA Today Washington Bureau chief, served as the debate moderator.

The debate was divided into eight sections with various questions chosen by Page. Overall, Harris continued Biden’s theme from the first presidential debate of speaking directly to Americans. Pence also tried this tactic but not to the extent Harris did.  Both candidates spoke mostly in the form of what their running mates, Trump and Biden, believe.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Sen. Harris began this segment talking about the 210,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19 under the Trump administration.  She claimed that Trump and Pence still do not have a plan to handle COVID-19.

“The American People have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said.

She also claimed that Trump’s attempts to keep the public calm have not been effective. Harris specifically addresses Americans, looking straight into the camera she asked how calm they were during various stages of the pandemic. She claims that the only thing that the American people deserve is the truth. Harris also claimed that the American people have had to sacrifice too much over the course of this pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence claimed that he and President Trump trust the American people and respect and commend all the sacrifices that they have made during the pandemic. Also, acknowledging that the credit for all that has been accomplished and all that has been avoided belongs to Americans.

“There’s not a day gone by that I haven’t thought of every American family whose lost a loved one,” Pence said. “And I want all of you to know that you’ll always be in our hearts and in our prayers.”

Pence also repeated President Trump’s statements from the first Presidential debate and how Trump’s closing borders to China saved thousands of American lives. Also claiming that Biden and Harris’s plan for dealing with COVID-19 looks very similar to Trump’s and even throws out the word plagiarism.

Both candidates expressed hope for a vaccine and Harris stating that she will only take a vaccine recommended by doctors, not by President Trump.

Role of the Vice-President

Moderator Page asked Harris and Pence about American concerns over the age and potential health risks of both presidential candidates. Both Trump and Biden being over the age of 70 bring much more prominence to the role of vice president in either case of either ticket win.

Both Pence and Harris skating around and never answering the question. Pence instead redirected his time back to the previous segment and discussion about a Coronavirus vaccine. Harris instead talked about when Biden selected her for his running mate and their shared values.

However, both candidates agreed that the President’s health should be made transparent to the American people. Pence claimed that they have already been transparent with Trump’s battle with COVID-19 and Harris claiming that Biden has always been transparent.


The discussion on the economy closely resembled that of the first Presidential debate. Harris claimed that the Trump administration’s success came from riding the coattails of Biden’s time as vice-president. On the other hand, Pence claiming that they inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression and fixed it up.

The debate also focused closely on taxes. Harris made a point to bring the focus of Americans back to Trump’s alleged tax fraud. She and Pence also closely debated President Trump’s tax cuts he enacted earlier in his term. Harris stating that Biden will abolish these tax cuts and that Biden has claimed he will not raise taxes on any American who makes less than $400,000 a year.

“I mean I thought we saw enough of it in last week’s debate but I think this is supposed to be a debate based on fact and truth and the truth is Joe Biden has made it very clear that he will not raise taxes on anybody who makes less than $400,000 a year,” Harris said.

Pence claimed in opposition that the abolishment would result in raised taxes for working-class citizens. He stated that these tax cuts Biden will repeal gives the average working family $2,000 of a tax break every single year.

“Look Senator Harris you’re entitled to your own opinion but you’re not entitled to your own facts,” Pence said.

Climate Change

The topic of climate change also followed a similar pattern to the previous Presidential debate. Pence began by stating that the air and water are doing great under the Trump administration. He even notes that Trump passed the Great American Outdoors Act hours earlier. He also mentions, as Trump did, forest management as a way to curb wildfires in the west.

Page then asked Harris what the Biden/Harris administration stance on the Green New Deal is. Harris skated around and never actually answered the question. She instead clarified that Biden will not ban fracking. Pence repeatedly claims that they previously were in favor of banning fracking. Harris also displayed the Biden/Harris administration’s reliance on science to guide climate change legislation and procedures.

“Let’s talk about who is prepared to lead our country over the next four years on what is an existential threat to us as human beings,” Harris said. “Joe is about saying we’re gonna invest that in renewable energy which is going to be about the creation of millions of jobs w. We will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, carbon neutral by 2035. Joe has a plan.”

U.S – China Relations

Pence was quick to point out that China is to blame for the Coronavirus. Harris quickly blamed the Trump administration for ruining relations with China and claimed that it brought about a loss of American life, jobs and global standing.

Harris also cited a PEW analysis and claimed that it showed former U.S allied international leaders respected Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping more than they do Trump. In actuality, the study refers to confidence that has in the leaders to do the right thing concerning International Affairs.

Harris also cites Biden’s feelings that relations with international allies is more of a relationship than it is foreign policy. She also claimed that Trump betrayed our allies and embraced dictators instead.

Pence claims that Trump has been demanding with allies but still in good relations. He claimed that this was in order to stand strong against those who would do the U.S harm. Pence also talks about how the Trump administration was responsible for the death of Isis terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He also discussed the tragic death of Kayla Muller.

“When Joe Biden was Vice-President we had an opportunity to save Kayla Muller. Breaks my heart to reflect on it but the military came into the Oval Office, presented a plan…but when Joe Biden was vice president they hesitated for a month,” Pence said.

The Supreme Court

Page asked both candidates how they hoped their home states would react if Amy Coney Barrett is appointed to the Supreme Court and Roe v Wade is overturned. Neither directly answered the question but both make their stances on abortion clear. Pence is pro-life and Harris is pro-choice.

Pence also stated that he is excited for Barrett to join the Supreme Court. Page also brought back the topic of healthcare and asked Pence how the Trump administration plans to protect people with pre-existing conditions on their healthcare plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Pence didn’t even come close to answering this question and instead asked Harris is she and Biden plan to pack the court in 2021 if Barrett is appointed.

Racial Justice

Page asked both candidates if they believe that justice was served in the case of Breonna Taylor. Harris firmly stated that she did not think justice was served and advocated for police and civil justice reform. Pence also claiming that his heart breaks for Taylor’s family but he respects and trusts the decision of the justice system. He also called Harris out for her disrespect and speculation of the justice system as she used to be involved in law.

Harris then claimed that with all of her records and history of working in the legal system she would not be lectured by Pence.”I will not sit here and be lectured by the Vice-President on what it means to enforce the laws of our country,” Harris said, “I am the only one on this stage who has personally prosecuted everything from child sexual assault to homicide.”

Pence also brought up negative aspects of her record working as a DA.

“When you were DA in San Francisco when you left office, African Americans were 19 times more likely to be prosecuted for minor drug offenses than whites and Hispanics,” Pence said.

Harris then replied that the work she did in California is a model of what the nation will do under Joe Biden.

It was also in this segment that a fly landed in Pence’s hair and stuck around for several minutes, quickly becoming a twitter sensation.

The Election

The final segment of the night regarded Trump’s previous statement about being unwilling to make a peaceful transition from office if his ticket loses. However, neither candidate really answered what they would do in this case. However, Pence did state that the Democratic party has spent the past three and a half years trying to overturn the results of the previous election. Harris responded with the Russian meddling scandal as justification.

Pence expressed his absolute certainty in Trump’s ability to win the election.

Finally, the debate concluded with one final question from eighth-grader Brooklyn Brown.

“When I watch the news all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans. When I watch the news all I see is citizen fighting against citizen. When I watch the news all is see is candidates from opposing parties try to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are the citizens supposed to get along,” Brown said. ” Your examples could make all the difference to bring us together.”

Pence replied that the news is not often always a great depiction of what is really going on among American citizens.  He also stated that as Americans we celebrate, “free and open exchange of debate.”

Harris commented that Brooklyn’s distinction between who we are and who we should be showed Harris that Brooklyn’s future is bright. She also stated that part of this bright future is giving a voice to people and allowing them to vote.

Overall the Vice-Presidential debate wasn’t as chaotic as the Presidential debate, but it still had its moments of surprise. Although there wasn’t a clear winner of the debate, experts claim cases can be made for both sides.



Edited by Madalyn Torres 

Featured Photo Courtesy of  AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

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