Vice Presidential debate dominated by global COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday’s vice presidential debate posed many important talking points including the increasing death toll caused by COVID-19 and the environmental crisis:

By Natalie Faas, News Reporter

The vice presidential debate that took place Wednesday night between Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Vice President Mike Pence focused on very important issues facing Americans with the largest being the current global pandemic. 

Following the president and first lady testing positive for COVID-19, many safety measures were put in place to keep everyone present at the debate safe.

The debate was held in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. There was a small, socially distanced audience that was all masked and had been tested for COVID-19 prior to the debate. 

The only people not wearing a mask throughout the duration of the debate were Harris, Pence and moderator Susan Page of USA Today. Both candidates were seated 12 feet apart with two plexiglass screens between them.

There were fewer interruptions from either side compared to the recent presidential debate that took place last week. Page often had to cut off the candidates who continually went over their time constraints and steered away from the questions asked.

“I think the debate last night was significantly more productive than the previous since both parties were civil but at the end of the day, it comes down to pro-life or abortion, socialism or capitalism, big government or freedom, and high taxes or low taxes,” said Canisius junior Ashley Amantia.

The topics of the debate were strongly related to some of the country’s biggest struggles presently. The conversation that seemed to dominate the debate was that of COVID-19, specifically the White House’s response to the pandemic.

When asked how he felt the White House responded to the pandemic, Pence said “I want the American people to know that from the very first day President Donald Trump has put the health of America first.”

Harris made mention during the debate that COVID-19 has now taken over 210,000 American lives in relation to Pence’s statements. The American death toll in comparison to other countries was a very prominent talking piece and Harris seemed to use this to her advantage. 

When asked about the response of the White House, Harris said, “The American people have had to sacrifice far too much because of the incompetence of this administration.” 

Another large topic of debate was the health of the environment and climate change. With this topic came other underlying issues, such as listening to scientists and the president’s constant denial of climate change. 

In defense of the President, Pence said, “”Now with regard to climate change, the climate is changing. But the issue is, what’s the cause? And what do we do about it? President Trump has made it clear that we’re going to continue to listen to the science.”

In response, Harris said, “We have seen a pattern with this administration, which is they don’t believe in science,” even citing at one point that the Trump Administration removed the words “science” and “climate change” from government websites. 

Other controversial and important topics were talked about such as the United State’s relationship with China, the case of Breonna Taylor, and the Supreme Court, as well as the economy, and President Trump’s recent tax information that was released. 

Traditionally, in presidential and vice presidential debates, the moderator chooses the topics and writes every question themselves. They then keep those topics and questions a secret in order to ensure a fair and even debate. Page did follow this system; however, at the end opted to close the debate by including a question from Utah eighth-grader Brecklynn Brown.

“When I watch the news, all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans. When I watch the news, all I see is citizens fighting against citizens. When I watch the news, all I see is two candidates from opposing parties try to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are our citizens supposed to get along?” Brown asked.

Both candidates addressed Brown and all American children directly. Pence explained the fundamentals of debate while Harris chose to praise the leadership of America’s young people. 

At the conclusion of the debate, discussions immediately began about who the victor of the debate was. Many political scientists believed that it was in fact a tie. ABC Chief Political analyst Matthew Dowd said, “Give the points to Kamala on this, but it still isn’t going to change the race.”

The debates this election year have been highly publicized and have received a lot of attention from the media. However, some believe that the debates, while informative, don’t mean much in terms of the election.

One thing caused the media to explode and it wasn’t anything the candidates said. Towards the end of the debate, a fly landed on Pence’s head. An Instagram post from the Washington Post said “The fly was arguably the most talked about moment at the Salt Lake City debate.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *