The vice-presidential debate last Wednesday [7-Oct-2020] was less openly hostile than the Donald Trump-Joe Biden debacle last week, but provided a further insight into the state of both campaigns ahead of November 2020.
As expected, the first question was about coronavirus in a debate dominated by the pandemic. Pence’s staff had insisted the vice-president has tested negative for Covid-19, but the two Plexiglass barriers placed between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence served as a constant reminder of the crisis. Harris kept her point simple. She focused on the numbers dead, and the millions of people affected.
On substance, authenticity, and actually answering the moderator’s question, Kamala Harris clearly won the debate. She even managed to defend her own record against Mike Pence’s lies while explaining Joe Biden’s plans.
One of the most memorable moments of the night was on healthcare, when Harris issued a stark warning about the Trump administration’s intentions. Trump is seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, which prevents health companies turning away patients with pre-existing conditions, and Harris made sure viewers knew it. “If you have a pre-existing condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they are coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they are coming for you.”
On the most important issue of the covid pandemic and the election [health care] Kamala Harris prosecuted her case. Her powerful warning “they’re coming for you” to people with pre-existing medical conditions was the moment when #KamalaWonTheDebate.
Pence responded by claiming the Trump administration has a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions. Trump has spent years claiming he will release a comprehensive healthcare plan. We are yet to see it.
About halfway through Wednesday’s debate, Vice President Mike Pence, a seasoned and sly veteran of high-stakes political theater, was asked whether President Trump had a plan to protect patients with pre-existing conditions if he succeeded in killing the Affordable Care Act. His response was a master class in evasive rhetorical jujitsu. First, the vice president ignored the question [the White House has not, in fact, come up with a plan], then launched into a long defense of his anti-abortion views and, for his dismount, demanded that Senator Kamala Harris say if she supported a plan to 'pack' the Supreme Court.
The debate topics were not released ahead of Wednesday night, but neither candidate was caught out. Both Kamala Harris and Mike Pence were guilty of refusing to answer some of Susan Page’s questions, in some cases barely acknowledging questions before launching into prepared answers.