A recap of the points made by both candidates at the Vice Presidential Debates
On Wednesday Oct. 7, sitting Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris faced off in the one, and only, Vice Presidential Debate of the 2020 election cycle. The candidates sat 12-feet apart with plexi-glass between them in an auditorium of the University of Utah. The debate was 90 minutes and had nine ten minute sections and moderated by Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for USA Today. Here is a breakdown of each.
The first question was related to how each administration would proceed in handling the pandemic. She specifically asked Senator Harris if they would implement a mask mandate or have a nationwide shutdown.
Harris – Harris began by stating that this is the “greatest failure of any admin is history… here are facts.” She continued to list facts about the deaths, case county, and positivity rates of COVID-19 in the nation. She then mentioned the recent Woodward book that claimed the President and his administration knew about the virus on January 28.
She spoke to the American people about what parents would do if they knew about a sickness that bad. She said their administration would provide a free vaccine for all. She also declined to answer about a mask mandate or national shutdown.
Pence – The Vice President spoke to the president’s actions stopping immigration on China early, and Joe Biden’s critiques on the action. It has not been proven that Biden’s comments were directed at the China travel ban, but his tweet did come one day after the President’s actions.
He also claimed that the Biden/Harris plan is like “plagiarism,” which he then said “Joe Biden knows a little bit about.” The Biden plan includes creating PPE and advancing testing, things the President has already done.
Harris – Harris then began to speak about trust in the American people, after it was brought up by the Vice President, and attacked the administration on not telling people earlier about the virus. She called them inept and incompetent. And added that “if doctors recommend it” she would take a vaccine.
Roll of VP
Pence – Pence responded by answering the last question, saying “The fat that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine is … unconscionable, stop playing politics with people’s lives,” to the Senator. He then attacked President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Swine Flu record.
Harris – Harris talked about her mother coming to America at 19, and making a life for herself. She said it was the“Most memorable days of her life” when Biden called her and that she loves serving the American people.
Neither answered about the role of the Vice President.
Pence – When asked about Trump’s health the Vice President said that, “The american people have a right to know about the health and the wellbeing of their president.”
Harris – Harris moved to talking about transparency and how Joe Biden has been transparent with his taxes, while Trump only paid $750 and is in debt for $400 million, facts revealed by a recent New York Times expose. Also of note, the same report reveals that Trump has in fact also paid millions of dollars in taxes in previous years.
Kamala – Kamala Harris attacked the current administration’s record on the economy saying that the president “measures the economy based on how rich people are doing – that is why he passed that tax bill… leading to a 2 trillion dollar deficit,” which currently sits around $3 trillion. She compared that to the Biden administration being for the American people and promising to repeal Trump’s tax cuts. She also said they would cut student debt by $10,000 and provide 2-year free community college for those making $125,000 or under.
Pence – The Vice President mentioned that Trump had a huge tax cut bill in which the average American family say an increased income of $4000, they have added 11.6 million jobs back to the economy, helped to pass a $4 trillion stimulus bill, passed the Paycheck Protection Act, and continue to roll back regulations. He attacked the Biden administration for wanting to raise taxes, surrender to China, sign into law the Green New Deal, and ban fracking.
“Joe Biden says democracy is on the ballot, make no mistake, the american come back is on the ballot,” said Pence.
Harris – The Senator rebutted, “This is supposed to be a debate based on truth and facts.” She said that is absolutely not true, while not providing any evidence as to the otherwise. Biden himself has been back and forth on the fracking issue.
She claimed Biden would not end fracking, or raise taxes, which seems contradictory to repealing tax cuts. She said they rode in on the coattails of Bidens economy. Joe Biden was responsible for the ACA. “If you love someone with a pre-existing condition, they are coming for you,” said the Senator.
Pence – “You are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts,” stated Pence.
Pence – Vice President Pence claimed our air and land are cleaner than ever before. He mentioned that the President signed the Outdoors Act, the largest investment in public lands and parks in the last century. The issue, to Pence, is what is the cause and what do we do about it. He claimed that the United States has reduced more CO2 than those countries in the Paris Climate Accords, through natural gas and fracking – by our own innovative means. He attacked Harris again on the Green New Deal.
Harris – When asking if she supports the Green New Deal, a bill that she co-sponsored, she mentioned again that Joe Biden will not ban fracking or raise taxes. She did not mention the Green New Deal in her response, but did pledge to enter the United States back in the Paris Climate Accords. She called climate change an existential threat.
Pence – Pence reminded Harris that she is a co-sponsor of the GND and it is on her website.
Harris – Harris brought up jobs the Trump administration has lost to China stating,“You lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs to China” because of the President’s trade war.
Pence – “Joe Biden never fought the trade war with China,” Pence responded.
Pence – Pence talked about the relationship with China by first talking about other trade deals the President has negotiated. He mentioned that Trump fought to renegotiate NAFTA and created the USMCA, which Harris voted against.
He mentioned that the Trump administration is going to hold China accountable for the virus while Joe Biden “cheerleaders” for them.
Harris – She said that the Trump admin in response to China has lost American jobs. They got rid of the office that is responsible for handling pandemic, a response that has been proven false many times.
Harris talked about the Pew Research Center that shows that leaders of our “formerly allied countries’” hold in greater respect Chinese President Xi Jinping than President Trump. “This is where we are today, because of a failure of leadership,” Harris attacked.
She continued that “you have to keep your word and stay loyal to your friends, but this admin has betrayed our friends and embraced dictators.” She talked about Christioher Rey and Russian interference and claimed Trump took the word of Putin rather than the American people.
“We were in the nuclear deal with friends and allies,” said Harris, “It’s about relationships,” she continued while attacking the President for not being honest.
Pence – Pence responded that Trump, “Kept his word when we moved the embassy to Jerusalem.” He claimed NATO is contributing more to common defense, allies have been strengthened, and the President has taken out ISIS, Al Baghdadi, and Qasem Solemani. He also mentioned that the Obama administration gave “$1.8 billion dollars to the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and Trump got us out of the deal,” referring to the Iran Nuclear Deal. In fact the administration gave only $1.7 million to the Iranians for a separate matter.
Harris – Harris turned in this moment to talking about the President’s remarks on troops. She repeated the President’s comments of “suckers and losers,” “What was in it for them,” and the story about Russia putting bounties on soldiers. All have been debunked by various individuals. John Bolton and others have testified the President never said “suckers and losers.” The president did not visit a cemetery because of bad weather. Finally, the Russian bounty story has been proven to be lacking solid evidence.
Pence – “The slander against President Trump is absurd,” Pence stated. “I can assure all of you… President Donald Trump respects and reveres [our soldiers]” finished Pence.
Pence – The Vice President did not directly answer a question on whether or not he would support abolishing Roe v. Wade. He used some of his time to respond to the previous question saying that Solemani is gone, Trump supports the troops and Harris/Biden criticized that decision.
He stated they couldn’t be more enthusiastic to see Amy Coney Barrett. He said they hope they don’t see attacks on her faith and personhood like they did with Kavanaugh. He attacked Fienstein for her “dogma” attacks. He hopes she is treated with respect and confirmed.
Harris – She said her and Joe were both people of faith.. “Let the American people fill the seat in the White House then we will fill the seat on the court,” she said.
Pence – Answering on abortion now, Pence stated he is “pro-life” and he will not apologize for it. He said he is proud to serve an administraiont that stands for the “sanctity of life.” He mentioend they support tax payer funded abortion up until the moment of birth. He then asked her if she would pack the court should Judge Barrett be confirmed. Harris refused to answer.
While neither has stated they are for abortion until the point of birth, the Harris/Biden administration has stated they would “make Roe v. Wade the law of the land,” and are supported by and are supportive of Planned Parenthood.
Pence – “The straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court. If you cherish the separation of powers…. re-elect Trump president,” said the Vice President.
Harris – When pressured on the courts she said that “Of the 50 people [Trump] elected [to a federal bench], not one is black,” she said about packing courts. She again refused to answer whether or not the Biden administration would pack the courts.
Harris – When asked if justice had been served for Breonna Taylor, Harris said no. She then pivoted to George Floyd and talked about the peaceful protests and how she was a part of them. “We are never going to condone violence, but we must fight for the values we hold dear,” she stated.
“I am a former prosecutor, I know what I am talking about,” she went on. She claimed their administration would ban choke-holds and carotid holds.
Pence – He said that his heart breaks for any loss of innocent life, but he has trust in the justice system. He called Harris out that as a former prosecutor, why would she assume a jury got it wrong.
He also talked about George Floyd, saying that justice will be served but there is no excuse for the rioting.
“We don’t have to choose between law enforcement…. and supporting minorities,” he said.
He also talked about record unemployment, assistance for schools and their fight for school choice.
Harris – “I will not sit here and be lectured by the VP on what it means to enforce the law,” Harris began. She continued to claim that the president has never condemned White Supremacy, as well as repeating the “fine people” line. Trump has condemned White Supremacy multiple times.
Pence – He went on to attack the media for selectively editing comments, talking about how the president condemned the KKK and Neo-Nazi’s. He said that when Harris left office African Americans were 19 times more likely to be prosecuted, and she did nothing for criminal justice reform, and did nothing for the First Step Act. This is not entirely true, and the Senator wanted the Act to go further, but still supported it.
Harris -“I did what the nation needs to do,” she said about her record. She also wants to institute mandatory body cameras and implicit bias training.
Harris – She spoke about how they are proud of the coalition they have built. Seven members of Bush’s cabinet are supporting their ticket, Cindy McCain, John Cascik and many generals.
“They know that Joe Biden has a deep seeded commitment to fight for our democracy,” she pitched.
Pence – “I think we’re gonna win this election, began Pence.” He drew a comparison between “the establishment” against the “everyday Americans” that the Trump administration is supporting, according to him. He touted that the Trump administration had rebuilt the military, created fair trade, brought back American energy, lowered taxes, rolled back regulations, defeated foreign enemies, nominated conservative judges and stood behind law enforcement.
Pence – Pence ended mentioning the documents released this week that the FBI spied on Trump, and that the question is not about if he will accept the election, but that Hillary Clinton did not accept the results. He did not specifically answer that the administration would accept the results of the election.
He commended the young girl for taking an interest in public life.
“In America we believe in a free and open exchange of debate. It’s how we created the freest and most prosperous nation in the world,” he went on. He told her not to believe that what happens on the news is what happens with the American people.
“The American people love a good debate, but always come together,” he ended.
Harris- “Joe has a reputation of working for the American people and fighting for them,” she began. He has known pain and suffering.
“You have the ability through your work and through eventually your vote to determine the future of this country and what it looks like,” were her final words.
The second Presidential debate will take place next Thursday, Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. ET.