Mike Pence and Kamala Harris during the Vice President 2020 Debate | Photo By Creative Commons
By Pamela Garcia
There was a lot of speculation around whether or not the Vice Presidential Debate was going to take place due to concerns of Vice President Mike Pence’s possible exposure to COVID-19 as a result of President Donald Trump’s infection of the virus.
With plexiglass between them, Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Pence moved forward with the decision to participate in one of this year’s great debates. Senator Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and African American to take the debate stage as a Vice Presidential Candidate in the United States. There was no shortage of jabs from both sides as the candidates made sure to call each other out on positions they felt were wrong. However, when it came to the way Pence and Harris addressed the method of debating, they got it right. Unlike the first presidential debate where there was a lot of arguing and name calling, both Pence and Harris kept their thinking caps on and more importantly their composure. This made for a more cohesive illustration of ideas and issues versus a drag out debate like the one Americans witnessed two weeks prior.
For example, Pence congratulated Harris at the debate for becoming the Democratic Vice President Nominee. He also acknowledged the historical moment by sharing that he called Harris when he heard the news to applaud and wish her good luck. Such a gesture showcased the two opposers have respect for one another as well as the debate process. It also showed both candidates had an understanding that the platform is an opportunity to do more than just fight each other but for the attention of the American people.
Millions of Americans experiencing hardships this year were up for debate between the Vice Presidential candidates as they disagreed about the severity of distress felt by Americans. For example, Harris was quick to point out that “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” was under Trump and Pence. Harris argued the Trump administration allowed for the significant spread of the coronavirus with Pence at the helm of the Coronavirus Task Force. Pence’s rebuttal was “China is to blame for the coronavirus” and expressed all actions taken by President Trump were steps a true leader would have taken, highlighting the president “suspend all travel from China.”
Pence then stated that under the previous administration of President Barack Obama and Biden, a terrible job was done in handling the Ebola crisis. While Pence painted pictures of poor leadership with a Biden-Harris ticket, the senator talked directly to the American people who she claimed are not only suffering from the coronavirus but may have lost their homes, jobs, income, and health insurance which they would need at this crucial time. The Affordable Care Act was discussed between the two Vice Presidential Candidates a little longer than Trump and Biden were able to during their debate with Pence eluding the Affordable Care Act is only hurting Americans by not allowing them a choice of health coverage.
However, Harris let viewers know, “If you have a pre-existing condition diabetes, breast cancer they’re coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they’re coming for you. If you are under the age of 26 on your parents [health] coverage they’re coming for you,” explaining Trump and Pence have no real plan for millions of Americans in need of health coverage.
When debate moderator and journalist Susan Page asked Harris if she would take a vaccine amidst the doubt of many Americans she answered saying if Dr. Fauci and other health experts advise it then she would certainly “be the first in line to take it” , but if Trump recommended a vaccine she stood firm that she wouldn’t. Pence then accused Harris of “undermining public confidence in a vaccine,” and that she should “stop playing politics with peoples’ lives.” Yet Pence had no problem playing politics when he brought up the topic of Harris’ record as a District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco.
Harris defended her record by explaining she upheld the law in her role as District Attorney which is something she will continue to do once in the White House, unlike Trump who conflates facts and fiction because “Donald Trump does not know what it means to be honest.” Aside from maintaining decorum, another accomplishment the vice presidential nominees were able to achieve was not just mentioning issues like climate change and education but actually, debating them. For example, Harris brought up the forest fires occurring in her home state of California and Pence stated the cause of the fires was due to forest mismanagement more than climate change or poor administration from the White House.
Pence noted his administration has decreased the usage of carbon dioxide, but Harris’s rebuttal was that America should have never ceased being a part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. According to Harris, if Trump understood science, he would not have terminated the partnership with the Climate Accord and under the Biden administration, there will be more green jobs and opportunities to fix climate change.
When the subject of coronavirus relief was mentioned by Harris, Pence argued that stimulus payments were quickly made to millions of Americans including business owners who were experiencing hardships due during the pandemic. Harris stated Trump was not doing enough to help the American people who need more assistance during these challenging times. The Senator professed that education is a right and proposed college should be free of cost. More importantly on this and other matters, the two nominees were able to present many solutions to the American people that were very impressive. This is imperative because more than ever Americans are seeking solutions to be able to return to work, business, and school to help feed their families, pay their bills, compensate employees, and boost the economy.