By Katie Volpentesta —
In a jam-packed news week, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee, Senator Kamala Harris had plenty to debate about on Wednesday night. Here are the most important topics of the night as well as the biggest things to take away as a college student preparing to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.
Avoiding the questions.
In a move typical of political debates, both candidates found a way to skirt around a question they did not want to answer.
Pence avoided answering whether he felt that President Donald Trump and the White House was irresponsible by hosting Amy Coney-Barrett’s SCOTUS nomination ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, an event that turned into a COVID-19 super spreader event. He also avoided answering questions about how far he would go to roll back abortion rights and if he believes climate change poses a threat to the US.
Harris avoided talking about her past support for the Green New Deal (which her running mate Joe Biden does not support) and talking about if she supports lifting all restrictions on abortions.
Both candidates would not answer if they had discussed Trump or Biden’s possibility of becoming incapacitated due to old age during their terms as president. They also avoided answering a question about the possibility of Trump refusing a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.
In the past week, Trump, his wife Melania, numerous White House officials, and other Republican politicians have all tested positive for COVID-19. The debate continued as scheduled with the added caveat that Harris and Pence would be socially distanced with two layers of plexiglass between them.
Pence tested negative ahead of this debate, and Harris used this opportunity to emphasize the Trump administration’s poor handing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the debate, Pence mentioned several people who were “here in Salt Lake City with us tonight,” implying that he has invited and been in contact with several individuals before or after the debate. If Pence were to follow CDC guidelines, he should have been in a 14-day quarantine following his close contact with Trump and others who have tested positive in the last week.
Kamala Harris as a Black woman in a VP Debate.
In a political cycle that has been dominated by white men, Harris’ presence as a black woman in a major election was felt. On multiple occasions, she asked Pence and the moderator Susan Page for equal time as her opponent and refused to let Pence cut her off while she was speaking.
“I just can’t shake how surreal it was seeing a black woman debating a white man for one of the most powerful positions in the U.S,” tweeted U of L alumna Bri Williams.
Harris set an example for young women, especially women of color, as she held her own against Pence and refused to take a back seat just because she is a woman. She was aware of how gender would play into the debate, and came prepared to defend her credentials and ensure that she had equal time to speak.
The Affordable Care Act and its Impact on College Students.
Throughout the debate, Pence and Harris argued over the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Pence did not detail what his and Trump’s healthcare plan would look like should it be overturned. With over 23 million people being protected under the ACA, Harris stressed that Trump and Pence’s rollbacks of the ACA would negatively impact millions.
“If you have preexisting conditions, they’re coming for you,” Harris stressed. “If you are under 26 and on your parents insurance, they are coming for you.”
Pence’s response was to attack Biden and Harris’ plans for a potential mask mandate, calling it a “government takeover of healthcare.”
Bonus: The Fly on Mike Pence’s Head.
While Pence was talking about racial justice and systemic racism, a fly landed on his head and stayed there for a whole two minutes. It trended on Twitter in real time, as celebrities, politicians and viewers alike called it the highlight of the night.
A Twitter account was created for the fly, and the Biden campaign even posted a photo of Biden with a fly swatter that says “Truth over Flies” on their website just minutes after the debate ended.
The fly stole the show, leaving some refreshed that a fly was the most interesting part of the night compared to last week’s debate fiasco.
Nearly every viewer of Wednesday’s VP debate can agree that it was easier to follow than last week’s presidential debate. After this debate, it’s clear that the looming COVID-19 pandemic, the future of the Affordable Care Act, and gender and race issues will continue to stick out in voters’ minds in the last month before the election.
File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal