Vice presidential debate recap

In contrast to the continuous interruptions and name-calling that characterized the first presidential debate of 2020, Vice President Mike Pence and vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris met on Wednesday, Oct. 7, for a much calmer and more structured debate. Following the announcement that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted COVID-19, the two candidates followed stricter safety measures. Sitting 12 feet apart behind plexiglass shields, moderator Susan Page of USA Today asked each candidate questions throughout nine segments.

The debate concluded with a question sent in by an eighth grade girl asking how citizens are expected to get along when the leaders of our country cannot manage to do the same. For the first time in the debate, the candidates agreed, each expressing their hopes for a bright future in America, with Pence closing “we can disagree and still come together as Americans.”

Pandemic

In this section, Harris detailed Biden’s plan for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes contact tracing, widespread testing and free vaccinations once they become available. Pence avoided Page’s question about America’s high death toll, and instead listed the measures Trump has taken against the virus. He also expressed confidence in American citizens to observe and implement health...

Role of Vice President

In this segment, both candidates were asked how they would view their roles as vice president considering both Trump and Biden would be the oldest president if elected in 2020. Neither Harris nor Pence clearly answered the question, instead backtracking to the previous topic. However, they did both express belief that Trump’s medical record should be released to the public while he is afflicted wi...

Economy

Harris explained Biden’s economic plan, which includes repealing Trump’s tax cuts, implementing free community college and public university education for families with an income under $100,000 annually and a $10,000 forgiveness of student loans. Pence mainly emphasized Trump’s prior economic successes of reducing taxes and increasing the average household’s income. ...

Climate Change

Pence avoided stating that climate change is caused by human activity, instead claiming that climate alarmists are attempting to use the increase in wildfires and worsening hurricanes to push for a Green New Deal. Harris highlighted the importance of creating jobs that involve clean and renewable energy and entering a climate agreement, while still refusing to directly endorse the Green New Deal eith...

American leadership

Both candidates were asked about their definition of American leadership in 2020, but the debate quickly strayed from this topic to America’s relationship with China, Russia and the Middle East. Harris spoke briefly on the importance of loyalty to citizens while Pence spoke about the military and victories against terrorism. 

Abortion

Page asked both candidates how they would want their home states to respond if the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was overturned. Both candidates stuck with the general ideologies of their respective parties; Pence said he would not “apologize for being pro-life” and does not support taxpayer funded abortions, while Harris said she would fight for women’s rights to their bodies. Pence...

Racial Justice

Each candidate was asked whether or not they thought justice had been done in the case of Breonna Taylor. Harris firmly responded that she believed justice is still needed in Taylor’s case and in George Floyd’s, commending the bravery of protesters around the country uniting for this cause. Pence expressed sympathy for the families of Taylor and Floyd but denounced the rioting and “looting” t...

2020 Election

The election segment of the debate focused on what would happen if President Trump refused to allow a peaceful transfer of power if Biden won the election. Harris simply urged Americans to vote, and to do so as early as possible. Pence refused to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, but expressed his firm belief that Trump will win the election.

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