On a stage at the University of Utah, Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris met for the one and only Vice Presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle. In comparison to the first Trump-Biden debate, this was a very different affair. Both candidates were much more tempered in terms of not interrupting each other and submitting, for the most part, to the moderator in terms of sticking to the rules.
2020 Vice Presidential Debate
Candidates: Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris
Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Location: The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Moderator: Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today
Full Debate Video
Here is the complete video of the vice presidential debate. The debate lasted just over 90 minutes split into 9 segments that seemed to overlap and bleed into each other throughout the night.
For anyone playing along at home, Mike Pence came prepared and ready to defend his boss. Kamala Harris’ heaviest lines came during the first 30 minutes, especially during the Covid-19 discussion which spanned multiple segments thanks to each candidate coming back to the issue. Harris has, in the past, demonstrated her debate skills, and she can be spot on as witnessed during the primary debates.
However, it seemed that this night was not Kamala Harris’ night. Mike Pence, a quiet and sometimes unassuming debater seemed better-prepared and better in command of his facts and answers. Harris at times stumbled with her responses, sometimes checking notes to get her thoughts in order. No doubt she was nervous, which is expected with someone who is being elevated to a national profile for what amounts to the biggest political night of her life so far.
The President won’t want to hear things like this, but his debating against Joe Biden could be better served with Pence as a coach in many respects.
Harris did not turn in a bad performance, but her tone sometimes seemed condescending, scolding Pence frequently saying, “I’m talking, OK?” with a rather smug look on her face. It came across multiple times and made her look weak and nervous as if she felt she was losing ground and needed to get her answer out.
We will see tomorrow how the debate plays across the political spectrum, but there were clearly some points scored for the Trump cause by Pence’s solid performance. Harris didn’t damager herself or damage Biden, but she also did not outperform Pence. The issue of court-packing, which is a question that Harris did not directly answer, will likely be an ongoing issue for the remaining weeks of the campaign especially as the confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court heat up next week.
The next presidential debate is set for Thursday, Oct. 15 assuming President Trump is cleared to join the stage with Joe Biden.