Indian American Democratic VP nominee calls Trump’s covid response ‘greatest failure in history’.
Indian American senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence clashed over coronavirus pandemic to economy to Supreme Court at their solo debate but without the fireworks of last week’s presidential debate.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate charged firing the first salvo in the running mates’ debate Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, Utah.
President Donald Trump, said the former California Attorney General, “has forfeited his right to re-election by his handling of the pandemic” that has claimed more than 210,000 American lives.
As the two candidates sat 12 feet apart separated by plexiglass partitions, she accused the president of covering up information about the virus when he was briefed in January by his national security team.
Pence defended the president’s record saying Trump “has put the health of the American people first” citing his restrictions on travel from China at the end of January as evidence that he took the threat seriously.
Noting that the Biden-Harris team’s plan to address the coronavirus with testing and the development of a vaccine mirrored actions the administration has already taken, he said, “It looks a little bit like plagiarism.”
If Harris sought to make the election a referendum on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, Pence touting the President record on economy suggested “The American economy, the American comeback is on the ballot.”
Vowing to make 2021 “the biggest economic year in the history of this country,” Pence accused Biden of planning to undo what the incumbent had done by raising Taxes.
READ: Trump-Biden debate turns into a brawl (September 30, 2020)
Both candidates frequently sidestepped questions including a key question on voters’ mind given the ages of both Joe Biden and Trump and latter’s covid illness — what would you do if the president became incapacitated?
Pence didn’t say what he would do if Trump didn’t agree to a peaceful transition of power if he lost to Biden, asserting, “we’re going to win this election.”
Harris refused to answer whether she backed court packing — adding justices to the Supreme Court– in case Democrats won. Biden dodged the same question in the first debate.
Reiterating his support for law enforcement, Pence attacked Harris’ record as a prosecutor saying it had led to 19 times more African-Americans and Latinos than Whites being prosecuted for minor offenses.
“I will not be lectured by the vice president on our record of what we have done in terms of law enforcement and keeping our communities safe and a commitment to reforming the criminal justice system of America,” she retorted showing a rare flash of anger.
The debate was light on foreign policy. While Pence accused Biden of being a “cheerleader for communist China through, over the last several decades,” Harris criticized Trump’s “trade war” with China saying it had caused a “manufacturing recession.”
Bringing up the charge of Russian interference in US elections, Harris accused Trump of being subservient to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Pence countered by claiming “it was found that there was no obstruction, no collusion. Case closed. And then Senator Harris you and your colleagues in the Congress tried to impeach the president of the United States over a phone call.”
Pence also accused the previous Obama-Biden administration of spying on the Trump-Pence campaign in 2016.
It was a moot point, who won the debate. But Biden declared victory, tweeting: “Kamala Harris, you made us all proud tonight.”
And Trump countered: “Mike Pence is doing great. She is a gaffe machine.”
But a little black house fly certainly scored on the social media with hashtag #fly2024 on Twitter. About an hour in, the insect sat for several minutes on Pence’s white hair, hanging on as he shook his head.
“Three debaters are now on the stage: Harris, Pence, and a very political fly that has nested in the Veep’s head,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics tweeted.
Shortly after the debate ended, the Biden campaign posted an ad for a branded fly swatter.