Harris and Pence Face Off in Vice-Presidential Debate


Robyn Beck/ Getty Images

Biden’s vice presidential nominee Harris shown here responding to Pence’s statement.

Jake Bednarski, Managing Editor

On the evening of Wednesday, October 7th, families once again crowded in living rooms across the nation to watch yet another political event. This time it was not the presidential nominees, but the vice presidential nominees who duked it out on prime-time television. On a stage in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence debated over the economy, the coronavirus, the Supreme Court, and other current events concerning our nation’s future.

Susan Page, a journalist for USA Today, moderated the debate. Page planned a stricter schedule than the previous week’s presidential debate, leading the public to hope for a more productive discussion. This plan worked, lowering the number of interruptions from 212 by both nominees to just 15 by their Vice Presidential partners. However, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence still led in both counts by more than twice their Democrat counterparts. 

Page asked questions relating to presidential disability, the current economy, the coronavirus response, the Supreme Court, a peaceful transition of power, the Affordable Care Act and Trump’s taxes. Harris attacked Trump’s handling of the pandemic, speaking to families about the loss of life when pointing out the one and a half month gap between the White House’s debrief on the coronavirus and the first day of lockdown. Pence fought back, drawing attention to the similarities between Biden’s coronavirus plan and what Trump has already done, as well as criticizing Biden’s negative response to Trump closing travel from China. Junior Julia Rockett found this quite intriguing, saying the different restrictions each would enforce, “was the most interesting… part (of the debate).”

Pence also attacked the notion that Democrats may “pack the court” if Trump’s nomination, Amy Coney Barrett, is voted into the Supreme Court. He directly asked Harris if Biden planned to do so if he won. Harris dodged the question, instead pointing to the lack of diversity the Trump administration has appointed to the Appeals Courts. 

Vice President Pence at the debate with the viral fly on his head. (Baradat / Getty Images)

Throughout the night, the candidates avoided tough questions from Page, especially those concerning the Affordable Care Act and presidential disability. Both Harris and Pence chose not to respond directly to Page’s disability question, instead focusing on previous topics and biography anecdotes. This was a recurring theme throughout the debate, with the two deciding to use their two minutes uninterrupted not to answer Page’s question, but instead to get the last word on the previous conversation. Page criticized this practice calling it annoying yet, “telling.” Critics also noted that Page was very strict on time allowance, and although kept equal time fairly well, did not give much time for candidates to respond. This possibly led to those two minutes not being used for their intended purposes. 

The internet lit up after the VP debate with some major highlights, one of which was Harris’s and Page’s reactions to Pence interrupting them. Women from across the country celebrated these female leaders for standing up to Pence’s continuation of his point, with GIFs of Harris saying, “I’m speaking” and Page’s, “Thank you, Mr. Vice President” retweeted often. However, Pence’s new best friend really captured the show: a fly landed on Pence’s head for over two minutes without the Vice President noticing. Fly trackers, posts on Instagram, and late night talk hosts exploded overnight, launching the fly into stardom. Hingham High students enjoyed the viral moment, with junior Andy Reid declaring, “My favorite part was absolutely when the fly landed on the Vice President’s head.” Reid also mentioned who he thought won the debate, believing that, “Vice President Pence won the debate, though I think Senator Harris brought a very strong performance. The Vice President used more statistics to back claims and he stayed more reserved in my opinion. However, I would absolutely understand if others think Senator Harris won. They both did a very good job.”