Harris, Pence take the floor at vice presidential debate


Photos courtesy of Creative Commons.

Maddie Lawson, Staff Writer

The political showdown between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris on the debate stage in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday, Oct. 7 was the latest in the series of events leading up to the looming 2020 Presidential Election.

Highlights of the night included clashes over environmental, economic, and foreign policy questions. The changes in structure since the first presidential debate of this election were apparent from the start of the evening. Though there were interruptions, and both candidates did their share of talking past their allotted time, this debate went comparatively well after the first one.

“I felt it was a relatively civil debate, and one that was focused on issues that mattered to voters,” debate moderator Susan Page said to the Washington Post on Thursday morning.

The debate covered a wide range of topics that may sway voters’ decisions this November, and candidates were able to share their running mates’ policy plans for these issues.

Going into this debate, both Senator Harris and Vice President Pence had political goals they needed to accomplish during the evening. Former Vice President Joe Biden was leading in many polls immediately following the first debate, and his running mate, Senator Harris needed to continue that trend. Vice President Pence needed to contrast President Trump’s demeanor in the last debate, and defend the administration’s COVID-19 response.

The debate began with each candidate discussing the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then delved into further policy issues. Vice President Pence cited widespread economic improvement in the country prior to the pandemic as well as their changes in trade policy with China as a sign of the Trump Administration’s success in the last four years. Senator Harris criticized the administration’s pandemic response as well as many of their policies regarding healthcare, climate change, and the United States’ relationship with China.

Though the participants in this debate adhered to the planned guidelines better than the first presidential debate did, each of them did speak out of turn occasionally. The bigger issue, according to many political analysts afterward, was the candidates sidestepping difficult questions.

The unexpected star of the evening was the fly that landed on Vice President Pence’s head partway through the debate. Though he seemed not to notice it, audience members on social media certainly did, and #flygate trended on Twitter the next day.