Vice presidential nominees debate coronavirus, police brutality in return to normalcy

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After a fiery presidential debate, Democrat nominee Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence took the stage to set records straight and defend their parties.

Both parties were allotted time to speak uninterrupted – a large issue in the presidential debate – ranging from two minutes when making a statement to 15 seconds when issuing a response. Susan Page, the debate moderator, started off the event by asking Harris what the Biden administration would do in January that the Trump administration would not do in terms of COVID precautions.

“Well, the American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris responded. “Here are the facts. 210,000 dead people in our county in just the last several months. Over 7 million people who have contracted this disease. One in five businesses closed. We are looking at front line workers who have been treated like sacrificial workers. We are looking at over 30 million people who, in the last several months, had to file for unemployment.”

Harris also pointed to the recent news from the prominent journalist Bob Woodward, where Trump acknowledged in an interview that both he and Pence were aware of the virus and how deadly it was but repressed the information to keep the public calm.

Pence, in his rebuttal, said Trump did in fact put the American people first when he was made aware of the virus and its severity.

“I want the American people to know that from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first,” Pence said. “Before there were more than five cases in the United States, President Donald Trump did what no other president had ever done and he suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world.”

Throughout the debate each candidate also answered questions about the coronavirus vaccine, adding seats to the court, trade deals, climate change and police violence.

During the police violence portion of the segment, the moderator brought up the case of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in her sleep by the police.

Harris was asked first about her feelings towards police brutality and the indictments in the Taylor case.

“I’ve talked with Breonna’s mother and her family, and her family deserves justice. She was a beautiful young woman,” Harris said. “Bad cops are bad for good cops. We need reform of policing in America and our criminal justice system, which is why Joe and I will immediately ban chokeholds and carotid holds.”

Pence was asked the same question, but had a much different response.

“Well, our hearts break for the loss of any innocent American life, and the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system,” Pence said. “This presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, that America is systemically racist, and that as Joe Biden said, he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, is a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.”

After the debate, news sites quickly began publishing fact checks for statements each candidate made. CNN’s co-anchor, Daniel Dale, believed Pence had committed what Dale called the “lie of the night.” 

“I think the whopper of the night was Vice President Pence’s claim that they always tell the truth,” Dale said. “You can check my work and others’ work. We have dozens, I think it’s hundreds, of false claims from the president, let alone Vice President Pence.”

While the debate was not nearly as disruptive as the earlier presidential debate, there was still an air of hostility, in addition to multiple interruptions, mostly from Pence’s side.

Oct. 22 is currently the next scheduled presidential debate following the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to cancel the second presidential debate on Oct. 15. The move comes after Trump expressed his unwillingness to debate virtually, despite his recent COVID-19 infection.

tmc82h@mail.umkc.edu

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