Recapping the 2020 Vice-Presidential debate

By Lexi Meola

Elm Staff Writer

The Vice-Presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris on Wednesday, Oct. 7, was filled with heated exchanges, a fly, and many falsehoods. 

Historically, the VP debates do not garner as many views as the Presidential debates do. However, since both presidential candidates stand to become the oldest U.S. president in history, many voters want to know more about potential successors if something were to happen to either candidate.

The VP debate was moderated by Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today Susan Page, and covered nine different topics impacting the American people, including the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, the economy, and climate change.

COVID-19 played a major role in how the debate operated after 34 top White House staffers and contacts tested positive as of Oct. 7, according to an internal government memo reported on by ABC News. 

“Spectators were warned not to remove their masks. The candidates sat at desks more than 12 feet apart and separated by plexiglass shields,” NPR’s Deirdre Walsh said on Oct. 8. 

Harris spent most of the debate criticizing the Trump administration for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also discussed the recent results of the Breonna Taylor case, Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy, and how a Biden-Harris campaign would handle the pandemic, which still poses a major threat to Americans. 

Pence spent his time defending Trump’s COVID-19 response and attacking Biden’s past stances on topics like fracking and healthcare. 

Pence interrupted Harris and Page multiple times throughout the debate.  

“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking,” Harris said. “If you don’t mind letting me finish, then we can have a conversation.”

This statement was representative of the struggle faced by many women in the workplace. 

“Many considered these to be poignant moments that chimed with their own experiences of seeing women struggling for airtime or being interrupted by men in work situations,” BBC’s Helier Cheung said.

Pence also got a lot of heat from people over his statement on climate change.

“The climate is changing,” he said. “We will follow the science.” 

This response is ironic, given that the Trump administration has not followed “the science” with the pandemic nor climate change. 

Neither candidate always answered the questions posed to them, which is typical for a political debate. Harris did not answer Pence’s question about whether Biden would pack the Supreme Court, and Pence would not answer the question about whether Trump would protect those with preexisting conditions if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

There was another subject added to the debate stage that no one was expecting — a fly that landed in Pence’s hair. 

“Vice President Mike Pence, his hair perfectly coiffed, never reacted to the fly’s appearance on the right side of his head. It stood out against his bright white hair, standing still for the most part but moving around slightly before, well, flying away,” The New York Times reporter Reid J. Epstein said.

Since this was the only VP debate until the election, this will presumably be the last time that the American people see Pence and Harris on the debate stage. 

Featured Photo caption: Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence took social distanced precautions at the 2020 Vice Presidential debate. Photo Courtesy of Flickr.

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