Vice Presidential Candidates Take on Debate Questions


Lawrence Jackson

Photo published by Flickr

Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, the vice presidential candidates Mike Pence (Republican) and Kamala Harris (Democrat) took the stage. Plexiglass was put between the candidates and masks were required for the socially distanced audience. The debate was outlined in nine segments, each about ten minutes long and moderated by Susan Page, a Washington bureau chief for USA Today. Topics included COVID-19,  the economy, climate change, relations with China, the Supreme Court, and the election. 

With over 210,000 deaths across the country and President Trump’s positive COVID-19 test, Harris talked about the importance of contact tracing and free vaccines for all once it is available as well as the Trump administration’s failure to stop the spread of the disease. 

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said 

Pence, the head of the coronavirus task force, claimed Trump did the best job possible by banning international travel at the start of the pandemic. In response to a question from Page about the White House setting a good role model. 

“President Trump and I trust the American people to make the best choices for themselves about their health,” Pence said.

Harris said that is too big of a responsibility to blindly trust the public when the leaders of government can’t set a proper example. Both candidates dodged the question about safeguards regarding the president if he had to take disability.

The second question posed by Page was about the economy. Harris talked about the Biden administration wanting to raise $3 trillion in taxes, invest in infrastructure, invest in clean energy, and invest in innovation and science.

“Joe Biden believes you measure the health and the strength of America’s economy based on the health and the strength of the American worker and the American family. On the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who measures the strength of the economy based on how rich people are doing,” said Harris.

Harris said Biden will only make taxes higher for people who make 400,000 dollars and above per year, and clarified that he will not ban fracking. Pence talked about how Biden was raising taxes, and described Biden’s Green New Deal as too costly. Pence suggested that Biden plans to ban fracking along with all fossil fuels. 

Pence said, “More taxes, more regulation, banning fracking, abolishing fossil fuel, crushing American energy and economic surrender to China is a prescription for economic decline. President Trump and I will keep America growing. The V-shaped recovery that’s underway right now will continue with four more years of President Donald Trump.”

The next topic up for debate was climate change. Harris explained that Biden will produce 7 millions jobs in renewable energy and not ban fracking. Pence claimed that the Green New Deal would crush American jobs and said again that Biden would ban fracking. 

“Now, with regard to climate change, the climate is changing. But the issue is, what’s the cause and what do we do about it? President Trump has made it clear that we’re going to continue to listen to science,” Pence said.

China was the next topic discussed by the candidates. Pence said China is to blame for COVID-19 and stated the Trump administration has done great things for the country. Harris said she believes the country is in a large recession because of Trump’s loss in the trade war. 

Harris also claimed that the Trump administration got rid of disease experts in the White House and Russia played a part in the 2016 election, but Trump chose to take the word of Vladimir Putin instead of the American Investigation Agency because of owing money to Russia.

“Donald Trump had talked at least six times to Vladimir Putin and never brought up the subject. Joe Biden would never do that. Joe Biden would hold Russia to account for any threat to our nation’s security or to our troops,” Harris said. 

Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination was discussed in the following segment with the concerns that she may repeal Roe v.Wade as well as ban abortion. Pence stated that the Trump administration deserves to seat the next Supreme Court Justice because they have been in office for almost four years and hopes Barrett’s religious views are not held against her. 

“We hope she gets a fair hearing. We particularly hope that we don’t see the kind of attacks on her Christian faith that we saw before. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said that it was a concern,” Pence said. 

Harris believes that whoever the people elect for president should then be given the responsibility for filling the seat, and the Biden administration will not repeal Roe v. Wade or abortions. Pence directly and repeatedly asked Harris if the Biden administration would pack the court upon a Republican win.

Harris said, “Do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is Black? … You want to talk about packing a court, let’s have that discussion.”

The election was the last topic discussed during the debate. Harris continued Biden’s statement from last week’s debate in Cleveland about the importance of voting and bringing integrity back to the White House and the country. Pence claimed that the Trump administration will win and continued Trump’s statement about mail-in votes causing fraud from last week’s debate. 

“I believe we are going to win,” Pence said.