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October 8, 2020, 03.08 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, – The US’ VP debate 2020 on Wednesday saw more civility between vice-presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Mike Pence.

Should Joe Biden win the presidential seat in the upcoming US election, Kamala Harris would be the highest-ranking woman in US history.

Democratic VP-hopeful Kamala Harris wasted no time to attack President Donald Trump’s record on the coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

Read also: US Anticipates Next VP Debate 2020 after Trump’s Covid-19 Diagnosis

America’s Covid-19 death tally is more than any other country in the world.

As such, Harris called Trump’s Covid-19 response as a historic failure that disqualified him from a second term.

Mike Pence’s vice presidential debate 2020 strategy was portraying Kamala Harris as extreme.

This year’s vice presidential debate is more poignant than in previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic and in wake of President Donald Trump testing positive for the novel Covid-19 virus.

Trump's weekend hospitalization for Covid-19 throwing new importance on the role of the vice president.

During the civil VP debate, Pence and Harris spoke separated by plexiglass as a safety precaution 27 days before the election.

"The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country," said Harris, a US senator from California and former prosecutor.

"And frankly, this administration has forfeited their right to reelection based on this," Harris said before a masked and limited audience at the University of Utah.

Saying Trump treated front-line health personnel as "sacrificial workers", Harris — pointing to Trump's own statements to journalist Bob Woodward — accused the White House of not moving quickly despite knowing the risks of Covid-19.

Read also: Trump Admitted Playing Down Covid-19 Danger in Bob Woodward Recordings

"The president said it was a hoax. They minimized the seriousness of it," Harris said.

No name-calling

After a raucous US presidential debate eight days ago between Trump and Biden, Pence and Harris took a more civil tone with no name-calling, but sharply disagreed on the reaction to the pandemic.

"I want the American people to know, from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first," Mike Pence said, pointing to his ban on travel from China on January 31, a month after cases first emerged in Wuhan.

Referencing a controversy that tanked Joe Biden's first presidential campaign in 1988, Pence said the Democrats' Covid plan sounds "a little bit like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about".

In contrast to Donald Trump's firehose-like blasts on Biden and his family, Pence demonstrated calm and stability.

Read also: Mike Pence Warns US Republicans: “You Won’t Be Safe” under Joe Biden

Mike Pence also congratulated Kamala Harris on the historic nature of her candidacy symbolizing another moment of civility between the opponents. 

Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, would also be both the first African-American and Asian-American vice president.

But Pence tried to portray her as a radical, saying that Harris — generally considered close to the Democratic establishment — was further to the left than socialist Bernie Sanders.

"More taxes, more regulation, banning fracking, abolishing fossil fuel, crushing American energy, economic surrender to China is a prescription for American decline," Pence said, reciting a list Biden would be unlikely to describe as his platform.

Mike Pence, questioned by moderator Susan Page of USA Today, acknowledged that "the climate is changing" but insisted that market solutions were the best way to reduce carbon emissions.

Read also: In 2020, Earth Experienced Warmest September on Record

Even if they delved more into substance, the two candidates revealed little new about their policies and were notably evasive on hot-button issues such as abortion and the Supreme Court.

There was one moment during the VP debate that triggered an avalanche of social media commentary: a fly found its way onto Pence, spending a visibly long time on his white hair.

The Biden campaign quickly started selling fly-swatters online with the inscription, "Truth over flies".

'Great insult'

The two candidates still scoffed at each other's remarks during the vice presidential debate.

At one point Harris, firmly but with a smile, reproached Pence, telling him: "Mr Vice-President, I'm speaking."

They had one of their most intense clashes about racial justice after nationwide protests over police treatment of African-Americans.

Joe Biden "believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities", Pence said.

"It's a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement. And I want everyone to know who puts on the uniform of law enforcement every day, President Trump and I stand with you," he said.

Read also: EU Unveils Plan to Tackle Racism as “Moment of Reckoning” Arrives

Pence, criticizing media coverage, insisted that Trump condemned white supremacy despite what some viewers interpreted at the president's shout-out to the far-right Proud Boys group at his debate last week.

Kamala Harris pointed to a slew of previous statements by Trump in her VP debate performance including his notorious remarks that "fine people" were at a 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned violent.

"I will not sit here and be lectured by the vice president on what it means to enforce the laws of our country," Harris said.

"I'm the only one on this stage who has personally prosecuted everything from child sexual assault to homicide."

Two more US presidential debates are scheduled before the US election, but they are now up in the air with Trump's diagnosis.

Read also: Trump Joins List of World Leaders Diagnosed with the Coronavirus

Joe Biden, 77, has said he would not want to debate if the 74-year-old Trump is still sick with the virus.

But Trump, ever the hyperbolic showman, said in a Wednesday video that he felt "perfect" and called his infection "a blessing from God".

Trump appeared to be watching the vice presidential debate avidly, tweeting without using Harris' name that "she is a gaffe machine". 

(Writers: Eric Baradat, Shaun Tandon, Michael Mathes)


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