Wednesday night at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Vice-President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris engaged in a 90-minute debate that attempted to be more civil than the first Presidential debate, eight days ago. Under a cloud of coronavirus and suspicions of transmission, both candidates were separated by two plexiglass dividers and were seated exactly twelve feet and six inches apart. The opening salvo from the debate was Harris condemnation and rejection of the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 210,000 people have died and more than 7.5 million people have contracted the disease.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said, arguing that frontline workers had been treated like “sacrificial workers” and that Trump had repeatedly minimized the seriousness of the virus, while discouraging people from wearing masks.
“Today they still don’t have a plan. Well, Joe Biden does,” Harris said. “We need to save our country,” she said, adding that the current administration had forfeited its right to a second term through its mishandling of the pandemic.”
Harris also said President Trump knew about the threat of the coronavirus weeks before it took hold in the United States.
“On January 28th, the vice president and the President were informed about the nature of this pandemic,” said the Senator.
Meanwhile, Pence used the debate to defend President Trump’s record on the coronavirus.
“Sen. Harris, you are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts,” Pence said, in what was an incredibly brazen line under the circumstances. “I am going to speak up on behalf of what the American people have done.”
“President Trump and I trust the American people in the best interests of their health,” Pence continued.
Pence said the administration is pushing scientists and pharmaceutical companies to produce a vaccine in record time, before Election Day.
Since Trump’s admission of his COVID-19 diagnosis last Friday, the President has a big lead on Biden in the polls. A nationwide CNN poll released Tuesday showed the President trailing his opponent by 16 points — as Americans recoil from his erratic behavior and his disregard for the dangers of the virus.
Next, abortion and the impending confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett was on the docket. While Pence voiced his support of getting Barrett on the nation’s highest court. The current Vice President said Barrett is a “brilliant woman” who will bring a lifetime of experience and “a sizable American family” to the nation’s highest court. Later, he demanded Harris to answer the question if the Biden Administration would stack the court, which has been gaining traction in progressive and liberal wings of the Democratic Party, even though, Pence did not fully answer the question of whether Roe v. Wade would get struck down in a second term.
To that end, Vice President Pence said a Trump second term would unveil a health-care plan that would replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.”
“President Trump and I have a plan to improve health care and to protect preexisting conditions for all Americans,” Pence exclaimed.
However, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order declaring it the policy of the U.S. government to protect people with preexisting conditions, but Trump would have to go back to Congress to work out legislation to replace those in “Obamacare.” But, the current administration has not put forth a plan that would comprehensively replace the Affordable Care Act.
As the debate shifted toward the U.S. Economy, Senator Harris said President Trump measures the success of the economy by how well rich and wealthy people are doing. Pence argued that Trump’s experience in the corporate world had helped build an economy that was roaring before the pandemic hit.
“Joe Biden wants to go back to the economic surrender to China, that when we took office, half of our international trade deficit was with China alone,” Pence said. “And Joe Biden wants to repeal all of the tariffs that President Trump put into effect to fight for American jobs and American workers.”
Harris responded by saying Trump lost to China.
“You lost that trade war,” Harris said, accusing the administration of shedding 300,000 manufacturing jobs and pitching farmers into bankruptcy.
As the debate wound to a close, the interrelated topics of race, police brutality, and criminal justice, Harris said she doesn’t believe justice has been done in the case of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in a police drug raid that went bad in Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor was shot multiple times in March after being roused from sleep by police at her door. A grand jury did not charge any officers for their role in Taylor’s death.
Moreover, Harris said a Joe Biden administration would ban chokeholds and require a national registry for police officers who break the law. She says George Floyd would be alive if such a ban existed.
Pence was also asked if justice was done in the Taylor case. He voiced his support for police while saying Taylor’s family, “has our sympathies, but I trust our justice system, a grand jury that reviews the evidence.”
Pence also says there is no excuse for what happened to Floyd, who was killed after police pressed on his neck with a knee for several minutes. He says, “Justice will be served.” But he says there is no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed Floyd’s death. Pence delivered those comments while a fly was resting nonchalantly on his head for two minutes and three seconds.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press and CNN Newsource