Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris matched quips in a more substantive debate on Wednesday night than the presidential candidates involved in last week, giving Americans a glimpse of what everyday politics looks like.
While more civil, conventional and not so brilliant or revealing 90-minute contest held at the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, did not dearth any attack and counters. As the debate proceeded, Harris – whose performance was eagerly anticipated and closely watched – got the better of Pence. However, neither had much interest in answering questions posed by the moderator or by the other candidate — leading to a mostly sober series of two-minute set pieces.
Harris attacked with facts:
From the very beginning, Harris used her prosecutorial background and tried to talk about the list of President Trump’s failure – most specifically coronavirus.
Harris’s response to the first question of the debate about how differently she and Joe Biden would counter to the coronavirus pandemic and pointing out the failure of Trump’s leadership, simply summarised her strategy for the entire debate and how she would try to keep 2020 as a referendum on Trump.
She while pointing out Trump’s failure quoted various statistics including 2.1 lakh people’s dead, 7 million infections, one in five businesses closure and the 30 million unemployment which was filed in the last several months that haunted America.
“Frankly, this administration has forfeited their claim to re-election based on this,” Harris said in closing her opening attack.
Even Harris had failed to answer a question from Pence on whether Democrats would seek to stack the Supreme Court after the election by passing legislation to add more justices to the nine-member panel.
However, she did counter-attack Pence by pointing that current court-packing of the Trump administration, haven’t appointed any Black judges to the federal bench, and she stated that how the Biden-Harris administration would value diversity.
Through this, she points the contrast and reaffirms one of the accusations as Trump-Pence administration is racist.
Harris points was a reminder of the racial divide the US has struggled with in protests and riots earlier this year. She was being more realistic in the debate bringing out live examples and instances rather than others who came before her.
Impact of Trumps contacting COVID-19 on election
Trump who refused to wear a protective mask while conducting election campaigns mocked Biden for wearing one, has now contacted coronavirus and hospitalized. Later he returned to White House declaring to feel well and stating he would be back on the campaign trail soon. Today, Dr Sean Conley, who is the incumbent Physician to the Presidents said that the president had responded “extremely well” to medication and had “remained stable.”
However, Trump contacting the virus has caused a major setback for him. His campaign had been trying to redirect the dialogue to Trump’s success in driving the stock market up amid a reopening of the US economy, and claiming that Biden would wreck the economy by increasing taxes and executing “socialist” health care and energy policies.
Pence, who chairs the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force, immediately him put on the spot by moderator Susan Page, the political editor of the USA Today newspaper.
Page asked “Why is the US death toll as a percentage of our population higher than that of almost every other wealthy country?”
Pence launched into a defence of the administration’s response, claiming it has been “the greatest national mobilization since World War II” and that it saved hundreds of thousands of lives. However, he never addressed the question paused by Page, but instead criticized Biden’s plan to address the virus as “plagiarism” of Trump’s agenda.
During the debate Pence was seen dodging the questions; however, those questions were of key importance such as on pre-existing conditions in health insurance, the problem of systemic racism in the US, about abortion in Indiana, and whether Trump would agree to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.
Indeed Pence throughout the debate was frequently turning to deny Harris’ attacks on the Trump administration and flipped Page’s questions to more advantageous ground.
The debate was seen as a vast improvement over the unruly shout-out the Americans had to suffer last week in the first presidential debate. However, neither candidate focused on the most compelling news development in the nation: Trump’s contacting of the coronavirus, his hospitalization and transparent about his health.
Many experts and analysts who closely watched the debate pointed out Harris was courteous, tough and stated points clearly. Pence strategy to make the election an ideological choice was weak as he tried to redirect and avoid the question.
Polls indicate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the US economy are the top concern for most Americans in the upcoming election. A growing majority of voters say they are dissatisfied with the way Trump handled the pandemic.