Vice Presidential Debate Recap


Photo: AP

Onur Toper, Staff writer

Photo: New York Times

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence faced off in the first and only Vice Presidential Debate Wednesday night. The candidates took the stage in the final push of the 2020 campaign–a campaign filled with twists, turns, and surprises that has marked one of the most unique calendar years in global history. 

The COVID-19 pandemic took center stage at the debate; candidates asserted their ideas in combating the ongoing health crisis, with California Senator Kamala Harris focusing on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, calling it “the greatest failure of any presidential administration.” Pence, the head of the Coronavirus task force, said the Administration has done a superb job of facing the virus; he said that “our nation’s gone through a very challenging time this year” and that the U.S. economy would bounce back from the setbacks posed by COVID-19. 

Climate change was also a key issue discussed in the debate. Vice President Pence used the topic to attack Joe Biden’s plans on the environment and its economic impact. “They want to bury our economy under a $2 trillion Green New Deal,” Pence said. “[They] want to abolish fossil fuels, and ban fracking, which would cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs all across the heartland.” Although Biden does not support the Green New Deal nor banning fracking, Pence and the Trump campaign have been adamant on the economics of some of Biden’s environmental policies. In the debate, Pence seemed more open to the fact that Climate Change is real and is occurring as we speak, but Harris used the moment to reiterate a key idea of the Biden-Harris campaign–job growth. “Joe Biden has been very clear that he thinks about growing jobs,” she said. “Part of those jobs that will be created by Joe Biden are going to be about clean energy and renewable energy.” 

Wednesday night’s debate also marked a historic moment; Kamala Harris was the first black woman to be on a Vice Presidential Debate stage. With this momentous occasion arising, she used her experience as a woman of color in America to draw attention to racial issues that have been front and center in recent months. “People around our country of every race marched shoulder to shoulder fighting for us to finally achieve that idea of equal justice under law. And I was a part of those peaceful protests,” said Senator Harris. Vice President Pence took a different route in this conversation on racial justice, pivoting towards the judicial aspect of court proceedings, saying he “trusts our justice system” and that we must have faith in our justice system as it is. He was also forced to defend his running mate’s comments on white supremacist groups, saying that the president had condemned such groups “repeatedly” and that “This is a president who respects and cherishes all of the American people.”

The first and only debate proved to be a more civilized and substantive evening than the presidential debate last week. With both presidential candidates in their 70s, these Vice Presidential Candidates must be ready to assume the role of president on day one. The debate helped Americans formulate thoughts on the Vice Presidential Candidates and proved to be a night that would express the ideas and visions for the America that will come next.