- Vice president Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris clashed over the coronavirus pandemic's handling on Wednesday night.
- Pence defended the White House's record without addressing its fundamental failures, while Harris accused him and President Donald Trump of presiding over a catastrophic public health policy failure.
- As Harris attacked Trump, the vice president tried to recast Trump's record on the pandemic and other issues in conventional and inoffensive terms.
The virus takes center stage during Pence and Harris vice presidential debate. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris clashed over the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday night. Pence defended the White House’s record without approaching its fundamental failures, while Harris attacked him and President Donald Trump of leading over a catastrophic public health policy failure. As Harris attacked Trump, the vice president tried to recast Trump’s record on the pandemic and other issues in conventional and friendly words. Pence claimed that the president had a plan to protect people with preexisting medical conditions though he does not hail the “V-shaped recovery” of the economy. He said that Trump would always “follow the science” on climate change, though he has spent his term denying the scientific consensus on global warming and dismantling environmental regulations.
On no topic was Harris more assertive in confronting Pence than the coronavirus: She opened the debate by calling the White House’s response to the disease.
the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.
In a pattern that would endure throughout the debate, Pence sought to refute Harris' criticism by picking and choosing components of the administration's response that he could cast in a relatively favorable light, including Trump's imposition of a travel ban on China. Pence did so by talking around the fundamental issue, that the disease has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and shattered its economy. Pence is likely to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, whether or not Trump is reelected. If Biden is elected, Harris would most likely be seen as his heir apparent in 2024 or 2028, depending on whether he seeks a second term.