The American people turned their attention to the University of Utah on Tuesday night as Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris faced off in the only vice-presidential debate before Election Day.
The debate began at 6 p.m. and was divided into nine segments, each lasting 10 minutes where each candidate had two minutes to respond to the questions. Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for USA Today, was the moderator.
The vice-presidential debate is an event that usually doesn’t attract many viewers but after the disaster the entire country saw last week at the presidential debate, Harris and Pence had their work cut out for them to persuade the American people.
“When it comes to making the other side feel safe, I don’t think either side did that last week,” said Fullerton College professor of public speaking, Douglas Kresse.
From the start of the debate, it was clear that we were going to see a much calmer atmosphere, closer to what a debate should be, than what we saw last week. Regardless, both Pence and Harris did not hold back.
On the topic of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus, Sen. Harris went in on Pence, who was the head of the White House Task Force.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” said Harris
Many questions were asked by Susan Page and were direct without leaving any room for misinterpretation. Not too many were actually answered by either candidate as both ducked and segued into different answers rather than directly replying to the questions asked by Page.
When the topic of Roe v. Wade was brought up in regard to Trumps Supreme Court justice nominee, both candidates dodged the question except for the brief mention by Harris.
“I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body,” stated Harris. “It should be her decision and not that of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”
The debate left many Americans wanting more, specifically those that wanted clear cut answers from either candidate. Although both Pence and Harris came with their talking points on what they wanted to talk about, they still managed to keep a civil debate. Only once did Page need to stop them and remind them of rules both campaigns agreed to.
According to a CNN poll taken after the debate, 59% of viewers thought that Harris had won the debate as opposed to Pence’s 38%.
“We have a country that’s very divided,” stated Kresse. “People can’t be governed unless they’re persuaded.
Nineteen states have already begun the early voting process meaning, that for many, the debates won’t play a part in persuading them to change their minds, especially with the negotiations for continuing the presidential debates that will take place on Thursday.