The exclusive debate between the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris remained clearer, quieter, and more precise than the chaotic presidential debate a week ago.
Despite the calmer environment – and the two plexiglass sheets separating the contenders – sparks hovered from both sides of the stage with no decrease frequency throughout the evening.
Held in Utah before a small number of socially distanced audience, the vice presidential debate 2020 took start with a question on the coronavirus pandemic but hastily panned out to involve a broad range of issues, including trade, jobs, climate change, and America’s stance toward China.
While Pence, Harris, and moderator Susan Page were the only persons on stage, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden remained the debate’s top targets.
Harris released the gloves from the outset. “American people witnessed what the greatest incompetency of any presidential administration in the country’s history is,” Harris said in her very initial response, launching into an exaggerated attack on the Trump administration’s supervision of the Covid-19 crisis.
As the debate turned toward economic issues, where the president polls the highest, Pence offered his pointed critiques of Biden’s policy record. For instance, when Harris condemned the Trump’s trade war with China, the vice president retorted: “Biden never fought it.”
Key highlights of the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate
1) Coronavirus took center stage
The debate began with the moderator asking what would be the Biden administration’s response to combat the coronavirus pandemic?
In reply, Harris mentioned the staggering death toll of more than 210,000 people in the U.S. and slammed the White House’s failure to tackle the virus in its early days.
“They knew what was taking place, and they didn’t publicize,” She said, adding, “They knew, but they covered it up.”
In his part, Pence defended Mr. Trump’s management of the crisis and claimed that a Biden administration would have done no better under this scenario.
“Our nation went through a highly challenging time this year, but I wish the American people should know that President Trump has put the American people’s health first from the beginning of his presidency,” Pence said.
2) Questions about running mates’ ages dodged by both Pence and Harris
Neither Pence nor Harris provided a direct answer when Page asked them about concerns over the ages of their running mates, Trump, 72, and Biden, 77.
The Trump campaign uses Biden’s age as the central attack line of the election. Meanwhile, Trump was discharged from the Walter Reed medical facility two days earlier, the Pence and Harris debate. He will continue to receive coronavirus treatment at the White House.
3) Discussions took place over the Trump-Biden debate
The vice president refused to move on when Harris tore into Trump over damning reports about his attitude and engagements toward the U.S. military. Pence insisted on time to complete his rebuttal and asked a rebuke from the moderator.
At a point in the debate, Harris highlighted reports that Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. soldiers.
Page tried to proceed, but Pence asserted for time to respond. He replied after the moderator gave him 15 seconds, “I’ve got to have more than that.”
“The slanders against President Trump regarding U.S. armed forces men and women are absurd,” Pence said.
The moderator cut in, but Pence continued talking, leading to a moment meaningful of the interruption-fest between Trump and Biden a week ago.
“You’ve got more time that she’s had so far” Page spoke to the participants amid the crosstalk. “I didn’t create the rules tonight.”
Critics ambushed on Pence for steamrolling Page and Harris.
Some also suggested that Page could interfere more to prevent the vice president from speaking after his time ran out. And a few said that Harris should be given more time to compensate.
4) Page read out an eighth grader’s question: If you cannot go along, how can we?
The moderator asked the vice presidential contenders the closing question of the night submitted by an eighth-grader from Springville, Utah.
“When I see the news, all I witness are two contestants from conflicting parties, attempting to tear each other down. I assume that if our leaders cannot get along, how are the people supposed to get along?” Page read. “Your models could make all the discrepancy to bring us together.”
After listening to the question, Pence advised the student: “Don’t assume that what you’re watching on your local news channels is synonymous with American citizens.” He mentioned an example of the late Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who were known close friends despite their contrasting political opinions.
Harris grabbed the opportunity to talk up some of the Biden’s character. “Joe has a longstanding reputation of working across the aisle. He has a history of lifting people and making them fight for their dignity.”
Optics gain immense importance in a debate without a single jaw-dropping moment. Unluckily for the vice president, that meant audiences were rightly aware that a fly landed on his head late in the discussion.
Pence talked about law enforcement, pushing back on the idea of implicit bias in policing as “a great insult” to officials.
On social media, however, viewers were instantly distracted by the visiting fly.