Anatomy of an Election: Vice Presidential Debate Recap

Justin Knowles, Staff Writer

The first presidential debate of 2020 left Americans with a lot of questions, especially about policy platforms. Joe Biden’s running with Kamala Harris, who is currently a California Senator, and Donald Trump is running with Vice President Mike Pence. Unsatisfied with the outcome of the Presidential debate, many Americans turned to the Vice Presidential debate to answer their pressing policy questions. In the debate, both vice presidential candidates discussed a range of issues from COVID-19 to racial inequality, and managed to address some of the issues that were sorely overlooked by Trump and Biden in the first presidential debate. 

Two of the major topics discussed by Pence and Harris were the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of presidential disability. Harris was asked about the Biden administration’s plan to handle the COVID-19 pandemic if they win the upcoming election. Harris directly responded by emphasizing the fact that they have plans for a vaccine, expansive COVID testing, and extensive contact tracing. Harris also told the American public that the Trump administration knew about the severity of the coronavirus in late January and could’ve helped and protected the American people earlier, but chose not to. When asked about presidential disability, Pence compared the coronavirus to the swine flu that broke during the Obama administration, and he expressed his belief about how poorly the situation was handled . Pence also shared his opinion on the high coronavirus death toll in America. Pence emphasized the actions that the Trump Administration has taken to better the American people, and how the government put the American people first. Pence was also asked about the “Super Spreader” event at the White House that occurred in the weeks leading up to the debate. Pence was questioned about how the American public could be expected to follow CDC guidelines when the White House so clearly disregards them. Pence responded by saying that the event was held outdoors, which scientists have said was safer, but he had nothing else to say on the issue.

Harris was clear that she believes voters and the American public should know the president’s health information to determine if he is fit to run the country. Pence agreed, but Harris brought up the point that the Trump administration has not been fully transparent about his health in past weeks. Given the fact that President Trump has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Harris emphasized the importance of transparency with the voters of America. Susan Page then asked if the Biden administration was planning on raising taxes on the wealthy. In response, Pence argued that the rise in taxes would throw off the economy and then cause it to plummet. Harris clarified that the rise in taxes would only happen to the American citizens making over $400,000 a year and that money would go into America’s infrastructure and renewable energy. Harris also mentioned that the Biden administration would cut people’s student loan debt by $10,000 and mentioned Donald Trump’s taxes.

On the topic of climate change, both candidates agreed that climate change is real and the scientists must be listened to. Where Harris and Pence differed was their stance on renewable energy. Pence believes that the Biden administration would ban fracking and cause immense unemployment in the country. Harris rebutted by saying that the Biden administration would not ban fracking but create more jobs  by implementing more renewable energy initiatives in America. 

Later in the debate, the topics of  racial inequality and how to fill the late Justice Ginsburg’s seat in the Supreme court were brought up. Page asked both candidates their stance on the Breonna Taylor case, asking if she had received justice. Harris’ stance was that Breonna Taylor did not get justice and neither did George Floyd. Harris emphasized how unjust and violent both of their murders were, and showed her support for the Black Lives Matter movement  as well as her support towards banning chokeholds, abolishing private prisons, and decriminalizing cannabis. Pence, on the other hand, said the American people have to “trust our justice system” and that even though George Floyd’s killing was wrong, it does not garner the rioting and looting of cities. Pence also said that he does not believe systemic racism exists. 

Both candidates were asked about the role of America’s leadership and how they would react if Donald Trump did not peacefully surrender power. Pence responded by saying that Trump has helped a great many soldiers in the middle east while also fighting against ISIS, and that the transfer of power “wouldn’t be an issue”. Harris said that an American leader is meant to maintain healthy relationships within the world and pointed out how untrustworthy Trump has been.

This debate answered many questions about both the Biden and Trump administrations moving forward, while also providing insight into the vice presidential candidates and their plans for America. Harris and Pence were able to effectively debate and discuss issues such as climate change and racial justice in a civil and professional manner, giving hope to many Americans. 

Image Credit:“Vice Presidential Debate – Salt Lake City, UT – October 7, 2020” by Biden For President is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0