U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris participated in the 2020 vice presidential debate on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, October 7.
Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans while his Democratic challenger, Kamala Harris, condemned “the greatest failure of any presidential administration” during a largely civil debate Wednesday night dominated by the coronavirus.
There were heated exchanges early on, but overall it was a far more respectful affair than the opening presidential debate eight days earlier. While Trump was the aggressor then, butting in and almost yelling, Pence demonstrated more discipline.
The candidates debated in an auditorium where any guest who refused to wear a face mask was to be asked to leave, an extraordinary backdrop for the only vice presidential debate of 2020.
Ultimately, the prime-time meeting was a chance for voters to decide whether Pence or Harris, a U.S. senator from California, is ready to assume the duties of the presidency before the end of the next term. It’s hardly a theoretical question: President Donald Trump, 74, is recovering from the coronavirus, and 77-year-old Joe Biden has not been infected but would be the oldest president ever.
Trailing in polls, Trump and Pence have no time to lose; Election Day is less than four weeks away, and millions of Americans are already casting ballots.
While the debate covered a range of topics, the virus was at the forefront.
Trump released a video three hours before the debate calling his diagnosis “a blessing in disguise” because it shed light on an experimental antibody combination that he credited for his improved condition — though neither he nor his doctors have a way of knowing whether the drug had that effect.
Pence serves as chair of the president’s coronavirus task force, which has failed to implement a comprehensive national strategy even as Trump himself recovers from the disease and the national death toll surges past 210,000 with no end in sight.