Hannah Lonergan, Staff Writer |
Moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page, the Vice-Presidential Debate took place on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 9:00 p.m. After a difficult first Presidential Debate the week prior, there were no new rules in place this time around. There were, however, new COVID-19 procedures in place including plexiglass barriers and a 12-foot distance between the two Vice Presidential candidates, Senator Kamala Harris and current Vice President Mike Pence. In an attempt to deter interruptions, Page started by noting that, “Americans also deserve a discussion that is civil.” This debate, Page announced, was sponsored by the Nonpartisan Division of Presidential Debates.
Harris made history during this debate as the first Black and Asian American woman to be on a major party ticket. Vice President (VP) Mike Pence, congratulated Harris on this accomplishment.
On the topic of COVID-19, Harris began by stating, “the American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.” Senator Harris took the offense by listing off statistics of COVID-19 deaths, cases of those who have contracted the disease and business closures. Vice President Pence, in defense, stated that the President has always had the best interest of the people in mind from the very beginning of the pandemic. Pence then suggests Biden’s plan to tackle COVID-19 “looks a little like plagiarism,” implying that their plan is all things the Trump administration has done or is currently doing.
When discussing the Supreme Court vacancy, after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Harris points out that since early voting had already begun, and millions have already cast their ballots – the seat should be filled by whomever the American people elect in the upcoming election. Pence turns the conversation to ask Harris whether the administration under Biden would pack the court – a question Biden and Harris have consistently avoided. Without a straight answer from Senator Harris, she asserts that they “will not let anyone subvert our democracy with what Donald Trump has been doing,” urging everyone to go out and vote.
One of the last topics was focused on election legitimacy. Page asked VP Pence if President Trump would peacefully transfer power if Senator Biden won the election. Rather than settle this common question, Pence stated that universal mail-in ballots would lead to fraudulent votes. To end the topic Pence points to his confidence that President Trump “is going to be re-elected for four more years.”
With fewer interruptions, both candidates were able to speak and get their messages across.
Climate change was another hot topic that was brought up by Susan Page. Vice President Mike Pence pointed out that in fact, “the climate is changing” but criticized how “climate alarmists” have used “hurricanes and wildfires to try and sell the bill of goods of a Green New Deal.” The Biden campaign has not directly supported the Green New Deal and Harris pointed out that Biden does not plan to ban fracking. Harris also criticized Trump’s actions of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate accord in 2017.
Healthcare was also on the table, as Pence ignored the question of whether the Trump administration will protect pre-existing conditions if the Supreme Court gets rid of the Affordable Care Act.
The internet seemed to be more captivated by a fly that was spotted on VP Pence’s head for a few minutes, than the debate itself. Jokes and other memes circulated after the debate, as even the Biden campaign posted a “Truth Over Flies Fly Swatter” online for 10 dollars.
There will only be one more debate to be held on Oct. 22 at 9:00 p.m. after President Trump declined to take part in the second debate. The Commission on Presidential Debates had decided to hold the second debate virtually, which will no longer happen. Candidates are not required by law to attend the debates and in place of the debate, Biden will hold his own town hall event.