Vice Presidential Candidates Focus on Important Issues, Without Resorting to Petty Insults by Haley Kouba

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Logo for the Vice Presidential Debate 2020

Logo for the Vice Presidential Debate 2020

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence extensively discussed their presidential candidate’s views, and their own views, on issues such as the coronavirus, climate change, the job market, abortion, and racial injustice in the 2020 vice presidential debate on Oct. 7.

The moderator of the debate, Susan Page, kicked off the event with some questions about the coronavirus pandemic in America. Both vice presidential candidates had strong opinions about the subject, but they remained relatively civil throughout the discussion and the rest of the debate.

Pence led his argument by expressing that President Trump’s decision to cut off contact with China earlier in the year saved “hundreds of thousands of American lives.” He also claimed that Biden’s plan to combat the pandemic seemed like plagiarism.

Harris rebutted by claiming that the methods the Trump administration has been using aren’t working and that American families are grieving the deaths of loved ones. She asked the American people, “How calm were you when you were panicked about where you were going to get your next roll of toilet paper?”

Pence responded by saying, “When you say what the American people have done over these past months hasn’t worked, it’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made.” He also expressed Trump’s confidence in the people to follow health guidelines. He rounded out his argument by giving the people credit for their efforts, and stating “We’re about freedom and respecting the American People.”

Harris argued that you respect the people by giving them the truth. She then stated, “It is asking too much of the people, that they would not be equipped with the information they need to protect their parents and their children.”

Page then asked the candidates if they thought citizens should know more about what’s going on with the president’s personal life and health.

Harris said yes, then continued to discuss President Trump’s taxes and debts. Harris explained that she feels the people have a right to know who Trump is indebted to, just in case it affects any political decisions he makes. She was concerned that the best interests of the people might not be Trump’s priority. Harris ended her answer by expressing that Joe Biden is an honest man, while Trump hides everything.

This segued into a discussion about taxes, the job market, and climate change. Page brought up the current job crisis. The number of job losses had slowed down in September of 2020, but now the amount of people finding employment has plateaued, and several members of minorities, such as women, Hispanics, and blacks are without jobs. Would raising taxes put the job recovery at risk?

Harris headed the argument by saying that Biden measures the strength of the economy based on how the people are doing, while Trump measures by how wealthy people are doing. She then stated that “On day one” Biden will repeal the tax bill implemented by President Trump, and invest the money in the American people. Harris went on to explain that Biden plans to invest in clean energy and improving our country’s infrastructure.

Pence responded by stating that President Trump’s bill had lowered taxes across the board, and he stated, “America, you just heard senator Harris tell you, on day one Biden will raise your taxes.” He expressed that the Trump administration had spared no expense to help the American people through this crisis. Pence then claimed that Biden wants to abolish fossil fuels, which would eliminate thousands of jobs across the American heartland. Harris countered by saying that Biden will not raise taxes for anyone who makes less than $400,000 a year.

Pence then said, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

From there, Page went on to describe the record-setting hurricanes and wildfires that have been battering the country. She asked if the candidates thought manmade climate change made these conditions worse?

Pence stated that the air in America is cleaner than ever and that he’s proud of the progress that the country has made. Then he said, “The climate is changing. The issue is what’s the cause, and what do we do about it?” He expressed that the Green New Deal, which Harris had supported before she joined the Biden administration would crush American jobs and families. He went on to say that the country has already lowered the production of carbon dioxide and that there are no more hurricanes today than there were a hundred years ago.

Harris rebutted, saying that Biden’s plan would create millions of jobs. Harris explained that they’re planning to focus on clean, renewable energy and that they will reenter the Paris accord with pride.

Page then led the discussion toward the candidate’s opinions on abortion. Harris responded by saying, “I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body.” Pence stated that he was pro-life.

Page, feeling pressed for time, quickly directed the discussion towards racial injustice. She asked the candidates if justice was reached in the case of Breonna Taylor.

Harris said no. She felt that Taylor’s life was taken unjustifiably and tragically. Harris stated that people of every race, age, and gender marched for equal justice and that she was a part of those peaceful protests. She explained that violence should never be condoned, but that the people must always fight for the values they hold dear. Harris feels that we need reform of our policing in America and our justice systems. If Biden is elected, he will ban chokeholds, and other overly aggressive tactics used by officers.

Pence responded to the same question by explaining that while his heart breaks at the loss of any American life, he trusts our justice systems. He then brought up the case of George Floyd and stated that there’s no excuse for what happened, and justice will be served, but there also is no excuse for the rioting and looting. He said that President Trump will stand with law enforcement.

Page then moved on, asking Harris and Pence what they would do if President Trump resists a peaceful transfer of power.

Harris said that she believes in the American People and that Biden and she believe in our democracy. She then told the American People to vote and use their voices. As a people, we should not let anyone subvert our democracy, despite President Trump’s attempts to suppress voting. Pence stated that
he believes President Trump will win the election.

The debate came to a close with one final question, which was asked by an eighth-grade student. Page read, “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 are 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?”

Pence spoke to the camera and said, Don’t assume that what you’re seeing on local news is synonymous with the American people. Here in America we can disagree and debate, but when it’s over
we come together as Americans. And we work every day to have a government as good as our people. We always come together in times of need.

Harris, also facing the camera, stated, The future is bright. You have the ability through your vote to determine the future of our country.

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