Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence faced off last night at the Vice-Presidential Debate that took place at the University of Utah and was moderated by Susan Page of U.S.A. Today. They debated on topics such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the United States, health information disclosed by the candidates, economy, climate change, China, criminal justice reform and the Supreme Court. The whole thing was more civilized than the first presidential debate (who knows if there will be a second one since President Trump has not agreed to do a virtual debate), but the takeaways from this debate remain the same as last week’s debate: did it sway the needle to change anyone’s mind or who really won?
The candidates began debating about COVID-19 and the response by the Trump administration to combat it. I was impressed with Kamala’s delivery of the facts and how eloquent she sounded. However, the substance of her answer only really scratched the surface of what the moderator had asked. Mike Pence’s response to this question showed that the administration did act and that his boss cares about American citizens. What a typical politician answer. The candidates then deflected more and more as the debate went on. They both tried talking directly to the American people, which was a tactic that proved to be successful with Joe Biden, but I didn’t sense empathy with either of them. Their character traits and answers remind me of why people trust politicians less over time. Both performances by these politicians make me trust them less, and it says something that I trust Mike Pence less than I do Donald Trump.
Harris and Pence used typical political talking points that you would hear on cable news networks. Harris used the “suckers and losers” comment against Pence in her explanation of Trump’s lack of appreciation for the military, repeatedly stated that the Trump Administration is trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, and talked about how racist the president is, which you would normally hear ad nauseum on CNN or MSNBC. Pence used the lines that Biden and Harris have criticized people about religion despite the fact that Biden and Harris practice their religion regularly, she is more “liberal than Bernie [Sanders]”, and that the Biden/Harris ticket is a cheerleader for China. It’s what you would hear from a lackey supporter of Trump on Fox News touting some stupid conspiracy theory. There were so many opportunities that Pence had to redeem himself regarding his responses to climate change and criminal justice reform and his answers just confirm what the left may think about him denying climate change and that the administration doesn’t really care about this. Kamala Harris also had the opportunity to answer whether she and Joe Biden would pack the Supreme Court and she failed to acknowledge this, which feeds into the right’s thoughts about what they think the left is trying to do when they don’t get their way.
Policy arguments aside, I do commend Kamala Harris for holding her own as a female against a male in power to get her voice heard. She didn’t look “hysterical” or “bitchy”. I also do appreciate several things that Mike Pence said, including his response to the 8th grader that asked how we can come together as a nation despite what the news says about the world coming to an end. I also thought Susan Page did a great job at moderating this debate, but she also didn’t have to deal with herding cats the whole time. I was more impressed with Susan Page’s questions for the candidates compared to Chris Wallace’s, even if he had to tame the beasts.
I don’t think there was a clear winner in this debate and neither candidate moved the needle to gain or lose supporters. People are sick of hearing the same vitriol that was shown last night. Honestly, the winner of the night was the fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head. It gave more life to an otherwise tolerable debate.