On Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Senator Kamala Harris had their showdown at the first and only vice presidential debate of the 2020 election season. The event was held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to discuss the topics of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, unemployment, the Supreme Court, taxes and foreign policy, and race and the justice system.
Senator Harris is the first Black and South Asian woman to be a major party’s vice presidential nominee.
Highlights of last night’s debate include multiple news sources fact-checking statements by Harris and Pence and a fly that landed on Pence’s head, which literally and metaphorically caused a buzz on social media.
While being questioned by moderator Susan Page, Pence frequently avoided answering the current question by responding to the prior question. This led to him constantly interrupting both Harris and Page throughout the debate. Harris, who has a history of questioning and debating President Trump’s staff, seemed to be aware of how her race and gender would play into how she was represented to both Pence and her audience.
“Mr. Vice President, I am speaking,” Harris said in response to Pence’s interruption during the coronavirus conversation.
This was not the only time Harris directly responded back to Pence after interrupting her. Pence brought up Harris’ former time as California’s top prosecutor and talked down on her record.
“When you were Attorney General of California, you increased the disproportionate incarceration of blacks in California,” Pence said. “You did nothing on criminal justice reform in California. You didn’t lift a finger to the First Step Act on Capitol Hill. The reality is your record speaks for itself. President Trump and I have fought for criminal justice reform… and we’ll do it for four more years.”
Harris responded by telling Pence that he has never been in her former position as a prosecutor and addressed her requirement for officers to wear body cameras and law enforcement training.
Although Pence evaded many questions, Harris did not answer questions surrounding a peaceful transfer of power, court-packing of the Supreme Court and Biden’s health to run the nation.
Instead of answering a question concerning if the Trump administration would be protecting those with pre-existing health conditions, Pence questioned the Biden administration’s stance on adding seats to the Supreme Court if the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is successful.
“This is a classic case of, if you can’t win by the rules, you’re going to change the rules,” Pence said, before asking if Harris and Biden planned to “pack the Supreme Court to get their way?
Harris dodged the question, which helped the Democratic party avoid a controversial statement.
The debate was concluded with a question submitted by an eighth-grader, who questioned, “If the leaders of America could not get along, how do they expect their citizens to?”
“I do believe the future is bright,” Harris said. “You have the ability through your work, and eventually your vote, to determine the future of our country and what its leadership looks like.”
The next presidential debate is scheduled Thursday, October 15, 2020, in Miami, Florida, even though President Trump was recently diagnosed positive for COVID-19.