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Key Highlights of The First VP Debate

Election 2020 | Illustration by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian

A much calmer debate than its predecessor, the Vice Presidential debate occurred at the University of Utah between the Republican ticket’s Mike Pence and the Democratic ticket’s Kamala Harris. 

The debate took place on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and was moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page. 

The 90-minute debate was split into nine segments of ten minutes each, beginning with a discussion on the coronavirus. 

The debate 

On the coronavirus, Harris called the Trump Administration’s actions “The greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.” 

“In spite of all of that, today they still don’t have a plan,” Harris said. “Our plan is about what we need to do around a national strategy.  For contact tracing, for testing, for administration of the vaccine, and making sure that it will be free for all. That is the plan that Joe Biden has, and that I have, knowing that we have to get a hold of what is going on.” 

In Pence’s response to the coronavirus death count, he said that President Trump’s decision to close travel to China “bought us invaluable time to stand up to the greatest national mobilization since World War II, and I believe it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.” 

“With that time, we were able to reinvent testing,” Pence stated. “We began really before the month of February to develop a vaccine, and to develop medicines and therapeutics that have been saving lives all along the way. And under President Trump’s leadership, Operation Warp Speed, we believe, will have literally tens of millions of doses of a vaccine before the end of the year.  The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and our task force have been doing every step of the way.” 

On the issue of a vaccine, Harris commented, “If the public health professionals… If the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. But if President Trump tells us that we should take, I’m not taking it,” Pence retorted Harris’s vaccine comment, saying that “The fact that [Harris] continues to undermine public confidence in a vaccine if it emerges during the Trump administration is unconscionable.”  

“There couldn’t be a more fundamental difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden believes you measure the health and strength of America’s economy based on the health and strength of the American worker and the American family.  On the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who measures the strength of the economy on how rich people are doing… On day one, Joe Biden will repeal [Donald Trump’s tax bill] and what he’ll do with the money is invest it in the American people,” Harris said on the economy and taxes.  

“President Trump cut taxes across the board,” Pence replied. “The average household income for a family of four increased by $4000 following President Trump’s tax cuts. 

“But America, you just heard Senator Harris tell you, on day one Joe Biden is going to raise your taxes,” Pence continued. “It’s really remarkable to think.  Right after a time going through a pandemic that lost 22 million jobs…  We have spared no expense to help the American people and the American worker through this.” 

“They’re coming for you”

On Healthcare, Pence said that The Affordable Care Act and Obamacare was a “disaster”. 

“President Trump and I have a plan to improve healthcare and to protect pre-existing conditions for every American,” Pence said. 

Harris, however, claimed that Trump’s plan to take away the Affordable Care Act would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to patients that have pre-existing conditions. 

“If you love someone with a pre-existing condition,” Harris said. “They’re coming for you.” 

Question from an 8th grade student

The final question was posed by an 8th grade student at Springville Junior High.  The question asked “If our leaders can’t get along, how can our citizens get along?” 

“In America, we believe in a free and open exchange of debate… It’s how we’ve created literally the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world,” Pence said. “I look at the relationship of the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg… and the late justice Antonin Scalia. They were polar opposites on the supreme court of the united states, one very liberal and one very conservative. What’s been learned since her passing was that the two of them and their families were the closest of friends… We always come together and we are always there for one another.” 

“I love hearing from our young leaders,”  Harris said. “When I hear her words… I know our future is bright. Joe Biden has a history of lifting people up and fighting for their dignity. Joe has known pain, he has known suffering, and he has known love. And so, when you think about the future, I do believe the future is bright… We fight for each person’s voice, through their vote, and we get engaged in this election. You have the ability through your work, and through eventually your vote, to determine the future of our country, and what it’s leadership looks like.” 

The aftermath 

Similarly to the first presidential debate, no clear winner emerged, with most Americans leaning toward their preferred candidate as the winner for the night.  

The second presidential debate has been cancelled.