Issues of COVID-19, China and climate change along with the Supreme Court nominee and race dominated the only vice-presidential debate with both Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris sticking to their known campaign positions on each of these pressing topics. While there were no surprises on policy issues from either side, there were far less interruptions and tense moments between Pence, 61, who comes from Indiana and his Democrat challenger Harris, 55, who is from California.
Pence, who entered the debate as an underdog, was seen vigorously defending the actions of the Trump Administration during the past nearly four years. And at times he successfully challenged his opponent with questions like the one on Green New Deal and Supreme Court to which she had no answer. Harris, who created yet another history, by becoming the first person of Indian descent to be on the stage of a vice presidential debate, charmed with her smiling face throughout responding to answers to her opponent with facts and figures with the same assertiveness as she started her career as a district attorney in San Francisco.
”This administration has forfeited their right to re-election, she asserted at the start of the 90-minute debate in Salt Lake City of Utah on Wednesday night moderated by journalist Susan Page from USA Today newspaper. ”Biden wants to go back to the economic surrender to China that when we took office, half of our international trade deficit was with China alone, Pence fired back during the debate, which moved from one segment to the other every 10 minutes.
Harris slammed the Trump Administration for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, describing it as the”greatest failure” of any presidential administration in the history of the United States. ”The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country. And here are the facts, 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last several months. Over 7 million people who have contracted this disease. One in five businesses are closed…,” she said.
Pence, who is heading the White House coronavirus task force, differed asserting that Trump’s plan saved hundreds of thousands of American lives, because with that time they were able to reinvent testing. ”The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force have been doing every step of the way. And quite frankly, when I look at their plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new PPE, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about, the vice president said.
Harris also accused President Trump of ”betraying our friends and embracing dictators as she attacked his ”unilateral approach” to his foreign policy that led to America pulling out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal and making the country less safer.
Trump administration has ”stood strong with our allies,” Pence responded. ”We’ve strengthened our alliances … and stood strong against those who would do us harm,” Pence said, strongly defending his boss. Pence alleged that Biden and Harris want to raise taxes, they wanted to bury the economy under a USD 2 trillion Green New Deal. Harris deflected the questions on Green New Deal, to which the moderator said she had sponsored it in the Senate. However, she firmly asserted that former vice president Biden, who is the Democratic presidential candidate, would neither raise any taxes nor ban fracking if voted to power. The deal is a proposed package of US legislation that aims to address climate change and economic inequality.
Harris asserted that the US under Trump has lost its trade with China. ”The vice president earlier referred to as part of what he thinks is an accomplishment, the president’s trade war with China. You lost a trade war. You lost it. What ended up happening is, because of a so-called trade war with China, America lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs,” she said. ”Lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it. Joe Biden has been a cheerleader for communist China over the last several decades, Pence responded.
Harris alleged that the Trump administration’s perspective and approach to China has resulted in the loss of American lives, American jobs, and America’s standing. Harris reiterated that a Biden Administration would join the Paris Agreement on climate change. Do you know this administration took the word science off the website and then took the phrase climate change off the website? We have seen a pattern with this administration, which is they don’t believe in science, she said.
”The climate is changing. We will follow the science, Pence said. Defending her argument that the Supreme Court nominee should be announced by the winner of the November 3rd elections, Harris referred to the remarks of Abraham Lincoln in which the great American leader had argued the same. However, she did not respond to repeated questions from Pence as to whether a Biden Administration will pack the Supreme Court if they do not get their way.
Harris accused the Trump Administration of not appointing a single Black among the 50 people appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments. This is what they’ve been doing. You want to talk about packing a court, let’s have that discussion, she said. The US needs reform of the policing and criminal justice system, she said.
First Published: IST