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Key takeaways from the vice-presidential debate

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On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris met for the first and only time on the debate stage. It was a much different picture than the first presidential debate. Although both candidates got passionate at times, for the most part, they stuck to their allotted time and refrained from interrupting each other.

Pence and Harris were seated during the debate and 12 feet apart. At the request of the Biden campaign, additional plexiglass barriers were installed between the two candidates as well. There were minimal people in the audience and all were wearing masks.   

The Vice President and California senator are both skilled debaters and that showed throughout the evening. Here are some of the key takeaways from the debate:

COVID-19

As expected, the coronavirus was a major topic of discussion during the debate. Harris tore into the Trump administration for its handling of the virus.

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said. “210,000 dead people in our country, over 7 million people who have contracted this disease. One in five businesses closed. They knew what was happening and they didn’t tell you.”

Pence responded to Harris by saying that her and Biden’s coronavirus plan looks familiar because it’s exactly what he and Trump are doing now.

“From the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first,” Pence said. “Under President Trump’s leadership, we believe we will have tens of millions of dosages of a vaccine by the end of the year. When I look at their plan, it looks a little like plagiarism, which Joe Biden knows a little something about.”

Harris fired back.

“Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done, clearly it hasn’t work,” she said. “When you are looking at over 210,000 dead bodies in our country. American lives that have been lost.”

When Harris was asked if she would get a COVID vaccine if one is produced before the end of the year she stated she would “be first in line” if it was recommended by experts but not if it was recommended by Trump. Pence accused her of playing politics with people’s lives and said she shouldn’t be delegitimizing the president.  

Supreme Court/Court Packing

Following the lead of her running mate, Harris ignored repeated questions on whether she would support packing the Supreme Court in response to Trump’s recent appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Pence made sure Americans didn’t miss the fact that she refused to answer.

“Let the record show that she didn’t answer the question,” said Pence. “If you cherish our Supreme Court you need to reject the Biden-Harris ticket.”

Harris went after Pence for supporting Trump’s election-year appointment. She cited the 1864 election where President Abraham Lincoln chose not to appoint a new justice because he believed it was too close to the election. She also attacked Trump for not appointing any people of color to federal courts during his tenure.

Pence said that Barrett was “brilliant” and he is hopeful that the Senate will not attack her on her faith as they did in her previous circuit court confirmation hearings. Harris is famous for her harsh attacks against Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his hearings.

Economy

The issue of tax cuts and the economy got a lot of attention during the debate as well. Harris accused Trump of only giving tax breaks to wealthy Americans and said that Biden would repeal these unfair tax policies.

Pence fired back that Trump has provided tax relief to millions of hardworking Americans.

“Joe Biden says democracy is on the ballot…the American economy, the American comeback is on the ballot,” said Pence. “You just heard Sen. Harris tell you, on day one, Joe Biden’s going to raise your taxes.”

Harris said Pence was not telling the truth.

“That’s not what I said. Joe Biden will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year,” she said.

Results

Most pundits praised Pence and Harris for having a lively but professional debate. It was much needed after the disastrous Trump/Biden encounter. They also agreed that the vice-presidential debate was not likely to sway too many voters. There were no major gaffes or revelations from either candidate and in the deeply divisive 2020 election, a majority of voters have already made up their minds and many have already voted.

PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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