FILE PHOTO: Things heated up, but only to a simmer, not a boil. “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking,” Harris said when Pence interrupted her during a discussion on taxes. Pence let her finish. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

In a sharp contrast to their running mates’ debate two weeks ago, the only unusual buzz created during the debate between by vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris and VP Mike Pence came when a fly landed on Pence’s hair.

Instead of interrupting or telling each other to shut up, the two traded thoughts Wednesday evening on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter protests, health care and climate change. 

  • COVID 19 — Pence defended Trump’s response to the virus, saying “from the very first day,” even when there were less than five cases in the U.S., Trump suspended all travel from China. The action saved “hundreds of thousands of lives,” Pence said, and bought them time to mobilize an effort not seen since World War II. Pence, head of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said the government sent out billions of supplies and helped make it possible to administer more than 115 million tests. He also said Trump’s plan to create a vaccine should produce millions of doses by the end of the year. PenceHe also criticized Biden’s plan to stop the virus and said the Democratic presidential nominee opposed Trump’s travel suspension.  “When you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force have been doing every step of the way,” Pence said. 

Harris summed up what Biden’s campaign thinks of Trump’s response to the pandemic in one terse statement: “The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”

“They knew and they covered it up,” Harris said moments later. “The president said it was a hoax.”

Harris showed skepticism of Pence’s idea that a vaccine should be available by the end of the year. She said she would “be the first in line” if public health professionals told her she should take it. “But if Donald Trump tells us I should take it — that we should take it,” Harris said, “I’m not taking it.”

“I don’t believe so,” Harris answered, adding that she had spoken to Taylor’s mother, and said Biden would reform the police with her help. “I’m a former career prosecutor,” Harris said. “I know what I’m talking about. Bad cops are bad for good cops.” Harris said she took part in the protests, which she called “peaceful. “We are never going to condone violence. But we always must fight for the values that we hold dear.”

Pence offered his sympathies to the family of Taylor, but he said he trusted the justice system. He then addressed Harris: “It really is remarkable that, as a former prosecutor, you would assume that an empaneled grand jury, looking at all the evidence, got it wrong.”

Harris said they would work to ban the hold that led to the death of George Floyd. Pence said “justice will be served” for Floyd’s death, but “there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed.”

  • Climate change — Pence admitted that the climate was changing when asked, but he didn’t want to pin blame on a cause. He also said “climate alarmists” would try to use natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires to sell the Green New Deal, which he said would stifle the economy. “President Trump has made it clear that we’re going to continue to listen to science,” Pence said. When pressed further, Pence chose to emphasize his belief that Biden would raise taxes. 

Harris said she believed the Trump administration wasn’t paying attention to the alarm bells rang by those wildfires — Harris is from California — and said a pattern shows that “they don’t believe in science.”

“When I first got to the Senate on the committee that’s responsible for the environment you know this administration took the word ‘science’ off the website,” Harris said. “And then took the phrase ‘climate change’ off the website.”

 Two other tidbits:

  • Harris said Trump’s health-care plan failed those with pre-existing conditions: “If you have a pre-existing condition — heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer — they’re coming for you.” Pence said Trump’s plan would protect those with pre-existing conditions but didn’t specify what it was. Trump did sign an executive order that he said will protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. 
  • Harris used the line, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking” after the few times Pence tried to interrupt Harris. Pence showed decorum, even telling Harris “it’s a privilege to be on the stage with you,” but twice he delivered this cushioned barb: “You’re entitled to your own opinion,” he said, before adding “you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Analysis: Pence validated Harris. That’s good for Pence, but bad for Trump. – NBC News – 10/8/2020
Vice President Mike Pence validated rival Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday night. That should be alarming to Pence’s boss, President Donald Trump.

FactChecking the Vice Presidential Debate – FactCheck.org – 10/8/2020
In the first and only vice presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence parroted many of the false and misleading claims we have heard from the top of the tickets.

That Debate Was a Bucket of Warm You-Know-What – Politico – 10/8/2020
Neither Vice President Pence nor SenatorHarris could escape the fundamental dynamic of the job they are seeking: The vice presidency is by definition minimizing.

Post-debate CNN poll: Harris seen as winner in a contest that matched expectations – CNN – 10/8/2020
More Americans said Sen. Kamala Harris did the best job in the vice presidential debate Wednesday night, according to a CNN Instant Poll of registered voters who watched. About 6 in 10 (59%) said Harris won, while 38% said Vice President Mike Pence had the better night.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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