Didn’t Watch, So I Should At Least get Up To Speed On The Talking Points…
It was almost a given that Wednesday’s debate in Salt Lake City between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris would be less chaotic than the slugfest in Cleveland between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden.
Name calling and insults were largely absent and at one point, Pence congratulated Harris on making history by being the first Black woman and first Asian American woman on a major party ticket.
Here are the takeaways from the debate:
Pence pivots when questioned on Rose Garden event and COVID
Pence defended the administration’s refusal to follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing masks and staying six feet apart, most notably at the Sept. 26 White House event unveiling Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett.
Video and photos showed that more than 180 people attended the Rose Garden event where guests hugged, shook hands and mingled in close proximity. Only about 50 wore masks and few practiced social distancing.
The gathering is now suspected of being a “superspreader” event, with many of those in attendance now infected with coronavirus, including Trump; first lady Melania Trump; former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Measures to address coronavirus risks arose in planning for the debate. To avoid contagion, the candidates were seated 12 feet apart and plexiglass barriers were used – a measure the Trump campaign initially resisted.
Harris dodges question on expanding the Supreme Court
Pence tried to get Harris to answer a question that she and Biden have repeatedly sidestepped: Do they support expanding the Supreme Court as many liberals are advocating?
Harris sought to put the focus on Republicans’ decision to move forward with filling the current Supreme Court vacancy so close to an election.
“I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body,” Harris said. “It should be her decision and not that of Donald Trump and Michael Pence.”
Harris tells Pence: ‘I will not be lectured’
The candidates’ stark differences were on full display when it came to questions about the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March.
Harris said justice had not been served in her case, while Pence said he had faith in the system that resulted in no charges against the officers for her death.
Pence said it was an “insult” to police officers across the United States for Biden and Harris to say there’s implicit bias in the criminal justice system. He said the Trump administration would “always stand with law enforcement.”
Harris response? “I will not sit here and be lectured by the vice president on what it means to enforce the laws of our country. I’m the only one on the stage who has personally prosecuted everything from child sexual assault to homicide,” she said, referring to her time as a prosecutor.
Pence congratulates Harris on making history
During one of the exchanges Harris used a question to trek through her resume as a prosecutor and to mention the “memorable” day that Biden offered her a place on the ticket, tapping her to become the first Black woman and first Asian American woman on a major party’s presidential ticket.
“I though of my mother who came to the U.S. (from India) at the age of 19 … And the thought that I’d be sitting here I know would make her proud,” she said, as she briefly looked skyward. “She must be looking down on us.”
“I also want to congratulate you on the historic nature of your nomination,” Pence said. “I never expected to be on this stage four years ago, so I know the feeling.”
Harris pushes back on Pence fracking attack
Amid an intense hurricane season and devastating wildfires, Harris and Pence had a sharp exchange over climate change.
Asked if climate change was an “existential threat,” Pence avoided a direct answer.
“The climate is changing, we’ll follow the science,” Pence said, before charging that Biden would raise taxes on “every American” and ban fracking.
Harris said Biden will not ban fracking and ridiculed the Trump administration’s approach to climate change. She noted that Trump said “science doesn’t know” when pressed about the role of climate change on the wildfires in California.
“Joe understands that the West Coast of our country is burning, including my home state of California,” she said. “Joe sees what is happening in the Gulf states, which are being battered by storms. Joe has seen and talked with the farmers in Iowa, whose entire crops have been destroyed because of floods.”