A Recap of the Vice-Presidential Debate
By Samantha Wawondatu
Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence faced off in their vice-presidential debate.1
Moderating the evening was Susan Page, a journalist and Washington bureau chief for USA Today who asked the respective candidates questions on seven topics.2 The topics covered were similar to topics discussed in the first presidential debate.3 The candidates were given two minutes to answer each question.4
In the first segment of this debate, Page brought up the topic of COVID-19 and asked how the candidates’ respective administrations would handle the current issue of the pandemic in the United States.
Harris responded by outlining the Biden administration’s plan to administer a national strategy for contact tracing, testing, and a vaccine. Harris then accused the Trump administration of its handling of COVID-19 saying, “Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done, clearly, it hasn’t worked.”
Pence expressed his belief that a vaccine would become available before the end of this year. Pence also disagreed with Harris’s statement, stating that Trump saved many American lives by suspending all travel from China.5
Transfer of Power
Page then brought up the topic of a possible transfer of power if a situation with presidential disability were to occur. The question asked was whether this topic had been discussed with both candidates’ running mates.
Neither Pence nor Harris directly answered the question. Harris instead chose to focus on her experience in Congress and as an attorney, while Pence used all his allotted time to reference the 2009 swine flu pandemic.6
Both Pence and Harris were then posed the question of what their respective administrations would do with the rising unemployment rate and the issue of a slow economic recovery due to COVID-19.
Harris responded by outlining Biden’s plan to one day repeal tax cuts for the rich. In addition to these tax cuts, Harris also outlined Biden’s plans for free public and community colleges as well as cutting student loan debt by $10,000.
Pence then argued that their administration managed to bring back millions of jobs lost due to the pandemic and “spared no expense to help the American people and the American worker.”7
On the topic of climate change, Pence was asked whether he believed that man-made climate change is worsening damage done by natural disasters. Harris was asked what the stance of a Biden administration would be toward the Green New Deal.
Pence responded by expressing his pride in the current state of the environment. He also acknowledged that while the climate is changing, the issue of forest fires could be controlled with forest management and hurricanes today are no worse than they were 100 years ago.
Harris responded by reinforcing Biden’s belief in science and how climate change is an existential threat. She then outlined Biden’s plan to invest in clean and renewable energy.8
Foreign Relations with China
In this segment of the debate, Pence and Harris were asked to give their opinion on what kind of relationship the United States and China currently have.
Neither of them directly answered the question that was given and instead chose to expand upon President Trump’s record with foreign policy.9
Page then brought up the topic of Amy Coney Barrett’s hearings for Supreme Court justice and posed the question of whether a conservative court majority would result in the overturning of abortion rights.
In his response, Pence acknowledged his pro-life stance and said that Barrett should not be attacked by the Democratic party over her Catholic faith.
While Harris expressed her belief that abortion should be a woman’s right, she also expressed concern over a court that would overturn the Affordable Care Act. According to Harris, this kind of ruling would strip the protection of millions of Americans.10
On the topic of racial justice, Page asked both Pence and Harris whether they believed justice was done for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot and killed after police officers executing a search warrant entered her apartment one night.
Harris responded by stating that she did not believe justice was done for Taylor. Continuing her statement, Harris said that the Biden administration’s plan for police reform was to ban choke and carotid holds, as well as requiring a national registry for police officers who break the law.
Pence in turn responded by saying that while he expressed grief for Taylor’s family, he ultimately stood with law enforcement and trusted in the American justice system.11
In the final segment of this debate, Page addressed Trump’s lack of commitment to a peaceful transfer of power. Page then posed the question of what Pence and Harris would do in their respective roles as vice president if a situation like this were to occur.
Pence responded by saying he was sure that the Trump administration would win the election but did not elaborate further on any details of what he would do.
Harris did not elaborate on any details of what she would do as well. Instead, she took the opportunity to highlight the coalition of Biden-Harris supporters within Congress and ended her statement by urging Americans to vote.12
- Kamala Harris & Mike Pence 2020 vice presidential debate transcript. (2020, October 8). Rev. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2GNkoEd
- Susan Page, Washington bureau chief, USA TODAY. USA Today. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://bit.ly/2STuLJ0
- Kamala Harris & Mike Pence 2020 vice presidential debate transcript. (2020, October 8). Rev. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://bit.ly/2GNkoEd