Rounding up the vice presidential debate

By Olivia Jacobs Oct 9, 2020
During the debate, Pence interrupted Harris to which she responded “I’m speaking.”
Photo: Flickr
A highlight of the debate was a fly landing on Pence’s head.
Photo: Wikipedia

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence faced off in the first and only Vice Presidential debate Wednesday night. Moderator Susan Page focused on questions regarding Covid-19, the economy, climate change, foreign affairs, healthcare, the supreme court, racial justice and the election for the main topics of debate. Here is a roundup of the points the candidates made on each topic:


Pence maintained confidence in the American people and claimed there was a concrete federal response to the pandemic. However, he did not address confirmed positive cases from the white house due to Amy Coney Barret’s announcement event which did not follow Covid-19 guidelines for mass-gatherings. 

Harris reminded the people at home of the 210,000 plus lives lost and over seven million infections. She slammed the Trump-Pence administration’s response and called it the “greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.” She further explained that their administration knew exactly what was happening and didn’t do anything to stop it.

U.S. Economy

Pence pointed out that the issue of the economy is specifically on the ballot for the upcoming collection. He consistently claimed that Biden will raise taxes for everyone and praised Trump’s tax cuts for helping out the American people. He also attacked the Green New Deal and voiced his support for fracking while claiming Biden will hurt the economy by getting rid of fossil fuels and banning fracking.

Harris made it clear that Biden will not be raising taxes for anyone who makes over $400,00 a year and will repeal tax cuts for the rich. She also described a plan to make all community and public colleges free, and to cut student loan debt by at least $10,000. She claimed under the current administration the economy is a complete disaster and they have been taking credit for the economy that the Obama-Biden administration left them with.

Climate Change

Pence only described climate change as the climate is changing and stated that he is proud of the current environmental record and conservation and the cleanliness of America’s air and water. He went on to critique the Paris Climate Accord and the Green New Deal again and insisted that both would negatively impact American jobs, and said that the United States has decreased more CO2 than countries that are still in the Paris Climate Accord. Pence also brought up the need for better forest management several times and asserted that him and Trump are listening to scientists.

Harris pointed out that Biden does believe in science and called climate change “an existential threat.” She maintained that Biden will in fact rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, but will not ban fracking. Harris also further discussed the Green New Deal where Biden plans to create seven million more jobs than Trump by utilizing clean energy and other renewable options. The plan promises zero emissions by 2050 and carbon neutral by 2035. 

Foreign Affairs

Neither candidate directly answered this question, but rather focused more on Trump’s record with foreign policy. Harris talked about how Trump seems to want to get rid of anything the Obama administration did and how he actively sought after approval from dictators such as Vladmir Putin over the FBI, especially during the 2016 election. Harris also highlighted comments Trump made about military members being “suckers” and losers.” Pence argued these accusations were absurd. Pence even brought up Benghazi, but Harris fired back with the issue of Russia having bounties on the heads of American soldiers 


Harris affirmed Biden’s support of the Affordable Care Act and reinforced that Biden will protect those with pre-existing conditions while arguing that Trump is currently trying to strike this down in court. Pence claimed this was not true and Trump will in fact protect those with underlying conditions.

The Supreme Court

Following the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, there was mention of the concern of whether or not Roe v. Wade will be overturned. Pence declared he is in fact pro-life and will not apologize for it. He said he is excited for Judge Barrett’s nomination and did not want Harris to attack her for identifying as a catholic. Harris expressed that both she and Biden are both people of faith, but support the woman’s right to choose and access to abortions. She also advocated for the American people to have the right to choose a Supreme Court Justice when they vote for the president come November 3 and brought up the example of Abraham Lincoln’s second term. Pence also accused Harris and Biden of wanting to pack the court, but Harris did not give a clear answer.

Racial Justice

Harris showed support for peaceful protests that she herself participated in and explained how she does not believe Breonna Taylor received justice. In regards to police form, she said she and Biden would work to ban chokeholds and carotid holds, require a national registry for police officers who break the law, get rid of private prisons and the cash bail system. She also said they would decriminalize mairjuana and expunge the records of those who were convicted of such crimes.

Pence stated that he and Trump support law enforcement and explained how it is unfair to insult those men and women in law enforcement after he was asked about implicit bias and systemic racism. He also said that there was no excuse for what happened to George Floyd, but the rioting and looting was unacceptable. Pence used Trump’s Jewish grandchildren to illustrate how he is not racist or antisemitic in response to his inability to condemn white supremacy in the presidential debate last week and in the case of Charlottesville.

The Election

The final question of the debate was in reference to the election’s possible outcomes. 

 Pence was asked about Trump’s comments regarding a peaceful transfer of power in which he responded with: “I think we are going to win this election.” He did not elaborate any further, but did bring up conspiracy theories Trump has tweeted about in the past such as when he associated fraud with the concept of mail-in ballots. 

Harris detailed a list of supporters for she and Biden including seven members of George W.  Bush’s cabinet, 70 former Republican National Security Officers, former Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Harris ended this part of this debate by urging people to vote and asserting that she and Biden believe in democracy and the American people. 

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