Opinions on the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate


Linda Qiu, Staff Writer

From fracking to China to tax policy, the 2020 vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris covered a range of political issues. At the same time, it didn’t reveal much at all; both candidates did their fair share of subject avoidance. At one point, Mike Pence answered a question about abortion laws in Indiana by discussing Soleimani, and Kamala Harris brought up Abe Lincoln in response to a question about expanding the Supreme Court. Regardless, Kamala Harris was the clear winner. Her performance, strong, empathetic, and emotional, outshone Pence’s weak rebuttals.

A major takeaway from the debate was the central role of COVID-19, from the placement of the candidates 12 feet apart, separated by plexiglass shields, to its usage as the first topic of the night. Harris started out strong, arguing that Trump has yet to come up with a plan for combatting COVID, and accusing him of concealing information about the virus in the beginning of the year. In response, Pence said Trump’s travel ban proved he took coronavirus seriously and commented on Biden’s plan for addressing COVID resembling actions the current administration has already taken. Pence’s answers were unconvincing, and Harris revisited this point throughout the debate.

A major detractor from Pence’s standing that night was his behavior. Though the two vice presidential candidates engaged in far fewer personal attacks and interruptions than in the presidential debate, they did not always comply with moderator Susan Page’s requests for respectful exchanges and uninterrupted answers. Pence, in particular, would not stop talking, even when his speaking time was up, forcing Page to continuously speak over him and ask him to end his answer. It was exasperating and tiring to watch, and a bad look for the Trump-Pence ticket. It made Kamala Harris appear even better for not losing her cool.

In the midst of all this, in the latter half of the debate, a fly landed on Mike Pence’s hair and remained there for a few minutes. It seemed like an omen. It was also more memorable than any of his or Harris’ talking points.

It is unlikely that the outcome of this VP debate will have a significant impact on the presidential election. Had Kamala Harris done poorly against Pence, Biden would have lost a little traction, and the Republican Party’s core voting base remains firm regardless. What’s more important will be the second presidential debate held this week.


Photo courtesy of CNN.COM