Harris and Pence Face Off in First Vice Presidential Debate

Photo by Stephanie Swart

By Kaleigh Cortez, Staff Writer-

The first and only vice presidential debate for the 2020 election was held on Wednesday night where current Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris faced off in discussions about pertinent issues on this year’s ballot.

A debate watch party was hosted by the Student Government Association on UTC’s Chamberlain Field for students to participate in their democracy.

The discussion covered the coronavirus pandemic, the risks of the presidential candidate’s ages, the economy, climate change concerns, relations with China, the open seat on the Supreme Court, current race relations, and the coming election.

The candidates took the stage at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City with USA Today’s Susan Pag, as the moderator. The format mirrored the recent presidential debate with 90 minutes to argue nine topics posed by Page.

However, the stage set-up took on another look after Harris fought for extra space between the desks and for plexiglass shields to separate the candidates after a coronavirus outbreak spread through the White House.

In comparison to the debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as there was more of a back-and-forth rebuttal and much less interrupting between participants.

The debate began with Harris calling the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” and claimed she would not be taking any vaccine produced by the Trump team.

Pence stated that he is proud of the response by the administration, citing that they took the unprecedented steps by suspending all travel from China.

When asked about presidential disability – either candidate that wins will be the oldest president ever elected – Pence argued they have always been transparent in regard to Trump’s health, to which Harris called for transparency into the president’s taxes.

On the issue of the economy, Harris promised that Biden will repeal the current tax code on day one, which she claims favors the top 1%. Pence replied stating taxes will rise under Biden’s plan.

“You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts,” Harris said.

The most amount of time the candidates spent interrupting each other, was during the discussion of tax plans.

In the debate on climate change, Pence claimed the administration listens to science, and he supported Trump’s numerous statements that the solution to the wildfires is forest management.

Harris was asked about the campaign’s stance on the Green New Deal.

“Joe Biden will not ban fracking,” Harris said. “That is a fact.”

The conversation switched to America’s relationship with China, in which Pence stated the administration is “standing up to China,” and once again referenced Trump’s travel ban on China.

Harris said America’s standing has fallen during this administration, citing the Pew Research Center.

“All of our formerly allied countries… decided that they hold greater esteem and respect [for] Xi Jinping, the head of the Chinese Communist Party, than they do Donald Trump,” Harris said.

There is a Supreme Court justice seat open after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and the Trump/Pence team is hoping to appoint Amy Cohen Barrett.

Pence stated that he hopes she will not be attacked for her faith like Judge Brett Kavanaugh was during his hearings.

Harris followed Biden’s statements that four million people have already voted, so this decision should be left for the next president.

One of the last topics debated that night was racial issues in America. In the discussion of police brutality, Harris said she believes “we need reform of our policing in America and our criminal justice system.”

Pence disagreed with Harris and shared support for our justice system and said he does not believe America is systematically racist.

The debate concluded after a question from eighth-grader, Brecklyn Brown from Springville Junior High in Springville, Utah.

On Friday, Oct. 9, the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the second presidential debate after Trump declined to participate in a virtual debate.

SGA will host another watch party for future debates, details to be announced.

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