After the unprincipled encounter filled with countless interruptions and mockery from Donald Trump and Joe Biden on 29th September 2020 in the first of three presidential debates, Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence came face-to-face on 7th October 2020. The first and only Vice Presidential debate took place at the Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both the candidates were separated by a distance of 12 feet and Plexiglas’s. The debate was mediated by USA Today’s Susan Page.
Unlike the presidential debate, the VP debate was much more moralized with very few interruptions and counter questions on one another. Susan Page opened the debate with the question related to the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic which was the highlight of the debate and led to a major point of contention between the candidates of the debate. Senator Harris called out to Trump administration for mishandling the situation and quoted “It has been the greatest failure of any presidential administration in handling a healthcare crisis in the history of US”. She accused Trump administration for down trading the US economy. In response to Harris, VP Mike Pence said that if we hadn’t shut down the economy at the right time, US could have lost more than 2.2 million lives. Answering Harris’s question about covering up health information from American people, Mike Pence said that they had made every information regarding the virus available to the public from the start.
When asked about the presidential disabilities and the VPs taking over the presidential duties, both Harris and Pence dogged this question away perfectly. Then came the most burning issue after the pandemic that was the economy. Kamala Harris said that Biden’s administration will repeal the tax reform bill, gain back the $2 trillion and invest it rightly on the American public which Trump has failed to do. Responding to this, the VP Mike Pence stated that they have successfully induced $4 trillion from Congress under the tax reform bill and produced 11.6 million jobs and increased the average household income for Americans during their four years term. He boasted about Trump’s handling of the economy in the best possible manner that US has ever seen.
Both the candidates were asked about climate change and the safety of lands to which Pence replied that their Outdoor Land Act for the safety of public and park lands has been nothing but a success and that Biden’s Green New Deal will be disastrous banning the fossil fuels and fracking. Senator Harris replied “Donald Trump doesn’t even believe in the word science whereas we will be producing millions of jobs on clean usage of energy and protection of our environment under the Green New Deal”.
The hot topic of the nature of USA’s relations with China also came under discussion. VP Pence charged China of hiding information about the virus from America and we want to improve relations with them but that they will be held accountable for their wrongdoings. Kamala Harris showed her concerns about US-China relations saying that our allies are more inclined towards China than USA all thanks to Donald Trump’s aggravation of relations with China.
Susan Page asked the candidates about the role of American leadership in the international community. Kamala Harris stated that “You’ve got to keep your friends close but Donald Trump has betrayed our allies and embraced the dictators. His isolationist policies towards the world will leave USA alone”. Mike Pence simply said that our allies are safer than they have ever been under any US administration.
This year’s painfully excruciating topic of racial injustices also came under the radar in which the mediator asked them both whether justice was served in the case of Breonna Taylor. Kamala Harris said that her family deserves justice and that we are in need of reforms for our policing system which Biden and I are determined on to reduce racial brutalities by police. Mike Pence expressed his shock at Breonna’s death and said that “Our heart breaks at the loss of any life. There is no excuse for racial injustice. Donald Trump and I stand with America”.
The debate got a little heated at racial injustices when Harris threw a tantrum at the Trump administration saying that he explicitly refused to condemn white supremacists in his debate while 75 million American were watching him. Mike Pence denied this and said that Trump and I have always stood for criminal injustices whereas Senator Harris did nothing as the Director Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California.
The debate’s last formal question was directed at the peaceful transfer of power. It was asked of Senator Harris how would the democrats cope with their victory in case trump refuses the peaceful transfer of power. She replied by saying that they have broadest coalition consisting of democrats as well as independent republicans because Joe Biden’s fight is for democracy and we won’t let Trump subvert our democratic values. In response to what role could he personally play in this regard, Mike Pence said that they are definitely going to win because there will be free and fair elections and hence transfer of power won’t be required.
The debate was closed with a question from an 8th grade student Brooklyn Brown who asked both the candidates that how will Americans unite under a leadership that is so harshly divided in their debates? Mike Pence replied to it saying that Americans like a good debate but when they come off the stage, they are united. Kamala Harris said that Joe Biden has a history of fighting for the American people and so the future of America is bright and united under his leadership.
The VP debate was far more civilized and principled than the presidential debate and both Democrats and Republicans have openly put forward their achievements and future policies in front of the American Public. With less than four weeks and two more presidential debates to go and Biden leading in most of the swing states, the whole world has its eyes on the US elections. With the stakes held so high, it is only a matter of time that the fate of the next four years of America will be decided by the people of America on 3rd November 2020.
Author is doing BS in International Relation from Lahore College for Women University. She is a freelance writer. Previously worked with The Frontier Post, Dawn and Express Tribune.