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Kamala Harris and Mike Pence vice presidential debate

Last week, on the night of Oct. 7, Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice president Mike Pence sat down in Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, and participated in the Vice presidential debate of the 2020 Presidential Election. 

For the first question, moderator Susan Page of USA Today asked Harris what the Biden administration’s plans for dealing with COVID-19 would be post election. 

Sen. Harris called out Trump and Pence for their lack of response to the pandemic, saying that they were informed of the virus in January, and not only failed to act, but “covered it up” and “called it a hoax.” 

Vice president Pence spoke next on the coronavirus, stating that Trump did “what no other president has ever done” and banned travel from China. Pence called Biden’s coronavirus plan “plagiarism” of Trump’s plan. Harris replied that “whatever the vice president’s claiming the administration has done [about covid], clearly it hasn’t worked”. 

The moderator then brought up the topic of the coronavirus outbreak at the Rose Garden of the White House, asking Pence directly how the American people could trust Trump’s administration to handle the pandemic if they had had an outbreak right in their very front yard. 

Pence responded: “there’s been a great deal of speculation about it [the rose garden outbreak] . . . many of the people at that event were tested for coronavirus . . . it was an outdoor event . . .” He then ended with, “We’re about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people.” 

Harris retorted: “Let’s talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth . . . [about the coronavirus]”

The moderator then brought up the results of a poll which stated that half of the American people wouldn’t take a COVID-19 vaccine if it was released right now. Harris said that if Dr. Anthony Fauci tells the American people to take the vaccine, she would take it. Then she said, “If Donald Trump says we should take it [the vaccine] I’m not taking it.”

Next, the debate touched on the topic of presidential disability, asking the vice presidential candidates if they’ve had conversations with their fellow candidates (Biden, Trump) about taking over if the president elect were to pass away. Pence did not give an answer to this question, and neither did Harris. Instead, they discussed other matters during these minutes. However, Sen. Harris said that Biden and herself had a common purpose of “lifting up the American people” and unifying the country around shared values.

The moderator then asked if voters deserved to know about the president’s health. Pence answered, “The care the President received at Walter Reed, White House doctors, was exceptional. And the transparency that they practiced all along, they will continue because the American people have a right to know about the health and well-being of their President.” Harris said that Joe Biden is ”incredibly” transparent about his health.

The debate touched on the topic of the economy. Harris stated that “Joe Biden believes you measure the health and the strength of America’s economy by the health, and strength of the American worker.” She went on to say that Biden will believe in science and investing in education, and that under his leadership, two year community colleges will be free, and student loan debt will be cut by $10,000.

 Harris also brought up Donald Trump’s tax bill that is “benefitting the top 1% and the biggest corporations of America, leading to a $2 trillion deficit that the American people are gonna have to pay for.” On the first day, Sen. Harris said, “Joe Biden will repeal that tax bill. He’ll get rid of it. And what he’ll do with the money is invested in the American people… He’ll invest in infrastructure.” Later in the debate, she stated, “Joe Biden will not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year. He has been very clear about that.”

The moderator brought up the record-setting hurricanes and record-setting wildfires that are wracking our country at the moment, and asked Pence if he believed, “as the scientific community has concluded,” that man-made climate change is making these natural disasters worse. 

Pence used this topic to segue into the Green New Deal, saying that it will “crush American jobs.” He also emphasized that the Biden campaign is planning to ban fracking. 

Harris firmly retorted that Joe Biden will not ban fracking, and added that Biden will create clean and renewable energy jobs. 

“Joe believes, again, in science,” said Harris. “We have seen a pattern with this [Trump’s] administration which is they don’t believe in science” Harris added that the Biden administration will aim for net zero emissions by 2050 and join the Paris Climate Accord with pride. 

When asked by the moderator if he believed that climate change posed an existential threat, Pence said: “The climate is changing. We’ll follow the science . . . We don’t need a massive, $2 trillion Green New Deal that would oppose all new mandates American businesses and American families . . .” 

On the subject of the new Supreme Court seat that needs to be filled, Harris asserted that the Supreme Court spot should be filled after the new president gets elected. Pence said: “President Trump and I could not be more enthusiastic about the opportunity to see Amy Coney Barrett become Justice Amy Coney Barrett.”

Later, Harris emphasized that Trump is trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. 

On the subject of Breonna Taylor’s murder, Harris said that justice was not served and that “her [Taylor’s] family deserves justice.”  Then, she brought up George Floyd, and the protests that followed his murder.  

“I was a part of those peaceful protests.” Harris said. “Joe Biden and I have said . . . ‘bad cops are bad for good cops.’” Harris said that the Biden administration will ban unsafe police techniques like the knee-on-the-neck-hold that killed George Floyd. 

“We will get rid of private prisons . . . we will decriminalize marijuana,” she added.

Pence said that he trusts the justice system in their decision to not hold Breonna Taylor’s killers accountable. 

“There’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd,” Pence said. “Justice will be served. But there’s always no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed.”

Harris called out Trump for refusing to condemn to white supremacists. Pence interjected: “Not true.”

And that was the vice presidential debate of 2020. The next 2020 presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 15, but because of Trump’s current coronavirus infection, it may or may not be virtual, or rescheduled. Stay tuned.