By Sabrina Edwards
Wednesday’s Vice Presidential in Salt Lake City between Senator Kamala Harris and current Vice President Michael Pence was a more civil exchange than when their running mates squared off last week.
The vice presidential candidates were seated 12 ft. apart and separated by plexiglass barriers. The debate was moderated by Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, and like the previous debate the moderator was not in charge of fact checking. Many different publications have taken it upon themselves to do so, like The New York Times. There was a small audience, all of which were required to wear masks for the entire debate.
Like the previous debate both were given an allotted time to answer the question and then respond to the others answers. While both went over their allotted times, Pence did it more frequently, often ignoring Page telling him he was speaking out of turn. He interrupted Harris a few times to which Harris responded with, “Mr. Vice President I am speaking.”
The first topic was COVID-19. Harris was asked about Biden’s plan for dealing with coronavirus. She took that moment to bring up the way the Trump Administration dealt with the pandemic.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said, then brought up the Bob Woodward interview with President Donald Trump. “They knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you. Can you imagine if you knew on January 28, as opposed to March 13, what they knew, what you might have done to prepare? They knew and they covered it up.”
Pence said that Biden’s plan seems a lot like Trump’s plan for combatting coronavirus, Pence said, “It looks a little like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about,” making a jab at his previous presidential bid, which he pulled out of after stating he used phrases from a British politician without attribution.
When asked if she would get the coronavirus vaccine, Harris said if scientific advisors back the vaccine that she would be the first in line.
“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
Biden claimed that they will have a vaccine ready by the end of the year, and that it will be ready under the Trump Administration.
“Your continuous undermining of confidence in a vaccine is unacceptable,” Pence said.
“The American people have demonstrated over the last eight months, they’ve been given the facts, they’re willing to put the health of their families and their neighbors and people they don’t even know first,” Pence said. “President Trump and I have great confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice.”
Pence echoed Trump about the supreme court nomination, stating that he believes they should be able to make the nomination. Harris responded similarly to Biden saying that they are in the midst of an election and that it wouldn’t be fair to the American people.
Next the candidates were asked about what it means to be vice president. Page brought up that one of the candidates will make history on becoming the vice president to the oldest president, both pivoted on questions regarding the age of their running mate.
Pence chose to speak about the coronavirus again instead of answering the question Page asked him, and instead continued to criticize Harris for saying she wouldn’t trust Trump’s word if he were to recommend a vaccine.
Harris chose to talk about her record and barriers she has overcome during her political career from being the first black woman to be elected attorney general of California, the second black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, and now the first black and South Asian woman to be a major party vice presidential nominee.
Both candidates spoke on climate change, Pence brought up Harris’ support of the Green New Deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, and mentioned that Biden wants to end fracking. Harris stated multiple times that Biden will not ban fracking, however, she wants to ban the practice on federal land.
Pence didn’t agree with Harris when she said that the climate crisis is a threat. He did say that the climate is changing, but that they will follow the science.
“There are no more hurricanes today than there were 100 years ago, but many climate alarmists use hurricanes and fires to try and sell the Green New Deal,” Pence said.
The candidates were then asked if the public should be aware of the candidates health. Harris said yes and mentioned that Biden has been forward with his medical history, she then brought up the topic of transparency and segwayed to Trump’s taxes, focusing on the large amount of debt he has.
“It would be really good to know who the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, owes money to,” Harris said. “Because the American people have a right to know what is influencing the president’s decisions. And is he making those decisions on the best interests of the American people, of you, or self-interest?”
During the topic of police injustices, Harris brought up the death of Breonna Taylor, and said that her life was taken “unjustifiably.” Harris said that under Biden, they will ban chokeholds immediately.
“Bad cops are bad for good cops,” Harris said. “We need reform of policing in America and our criminal justice system. That’s why Joe and I will immediately ban chokeholds and carotid holds.”
Pence gave his regards to Taylor’s family and said they have his “sympathies.” However, he did say he believes in the justice system.
Harris brought up George Floyd dying at the hands of police, calling his death “torture,” as well as saying that there is systemtic racism in America and that black people don’t have access to full rights.
“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’m the only one on this stage who has personally prosecuted everything from child sexual assault to homicide.”
Pence denied her claims, refuting systemic racism in America, all while there was a fly on his head distracting many from his comments.
“I must tell you this presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, that America is systemically racist,” Pence said.
When asked if Trump will commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Pence pivoted and accused Democrats of trying to steal the election from Trump in 2016, bringing up the Russian investigation.
“If we have a free and fair election, we’ll have confidence in it,” Pence said. “And I know and believe that President Donald Trump will be re-elected for four more years.”
The next Presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 15, the debate was supposed to take place in Miami but is now being switched to a virtual platform in light of Trump’s diagnosis. However, Trump said he will not participate if it’s held virtually, he said to FOX Business, “I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate.”