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A Much More Measured Tone in the Vice-Presidential Debate

What Happened:

  • Vice-President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris met for the Vice-Presidential debate Wednesday night.

  • The debate was much more measured and respectful in tone than the Presidential debate a few weeks back.

Several topics were discussed and some questions were evaded by both candidates, here is a breakdown of some of the main talking points of the night:

On Healthcare:

  • Harris brought up the upcoming court case, supported by the Trump administration, that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the regulations protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Harris told voters that if they have pre-existing conditions, which many Americans may now have if they become infected with the Coronavirus, "they are coming for you."

  • Pence disagreed and said that Obamacare was a disaster and that people with pre-existing conditions would be protected. When pressed by the moderator for details on how they would be protected, he did not answer directly

On the Supreme Court:

  • Pence argued that Amy Coney Barrett is an excellent choice for the Supreme Court and that she would serve the court well. Pence also challenged Harris to directly respond on whether Democrats would try and pack the court, should they win the election.

  • Harris argued that the vacant Supreme Court seat should only be filled after the election as the voting process has already started. When asked about packing the court multiple times by Pence, she deflected and did not answer directly.

On Roe v. Wade:

  • Pence said he is pro-life but that he would not try and guess as to how Amy Coney Barrett might vote should the subject of abortion come up on the docket.

  • Harris said she supports a woman's right to choose and have control over her own body.

On Covid-19:

  • Pence, who heads the Coronavirus task force, defended the administration's handling of the pandemic stating that Trump acted early by closing borders with China and that there would have been many more deaths had he not taken such decisive action.

  • Pence also promised that vaccines were going to be available before the end of the year and that tens of thousands of vaccines were already in production.

  • Harris attacked the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic pointing out the disproportionate number of Corona-related American deaths vs. other first world countries around the world. She also brought up Trump's decision to downplay the pandemic and to not be forthright with the American public about the dangers of the virus, when he first learned of it.

  • Said Harris, "The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country."

On the Economy and Jobs:

  • Harris talked about the poor state of the economy and the current unemployment rates, under the Trump administration, pointing out that this is the highest unemployment rate going into a Presidential election since the government started tracking the monthly rate in 1948.

  • Harris also said that the initial growth that Trump enjoyed was largely due to the economic turnaround created under the Obama/Biden administration and that Trump was riding on "Biden's coattails."

  • Finally, Harris attacked the trade war with China and said that Trump's mishandling of that negotiation had led to the US "losing" that negotiation and losing 300,000+ manufacturing jobs in the process.

  • Pence defended the economic growth and job growth that occurred under the Trump administration prior to the Coronavirus pandemic and said the economy was already recovering in a "V" shape.

  • On the China trade war, he disagreed that the US had lost that negotiation saying that the US was much stronger and more respected now and that Biden had allowed China to do whatever they wanted in the past. Said Pence, "Lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it. Joe Biden has been a cheerleader for China for the last several decades."

  • Pence also brought up NAFTA, saying that the old agreement was terrible and that the new USMCA agreement was much more favorable for the US and for the automobile industry.

  • Finally, Pence also attacked Biden and Harris on fracking saying that Biden was against fracking and that this would lead to significant job loss. Harris denied this and said that the Biden administration would not change anything in regards to fracking.

On Climate Change:

  • When asked about his thoughts on climate change and whether it was leading to these increasing natural disasters in the world, Pence avoided supporting or denying climate change directly and instead said we would have to wait and listen to the scientists.

  • Pence also claimed that the Trump administration had the cleanest air and lowest CO2 emission levels in decades.

  • Harris said that climate change was one of the biggest existential threats to humanity and that a Biden ticket would implement major reform in this area and would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement as well.

On Taxes:

  • Harris said the Biden administration would repeal Trump's corporate tax breaks and would raise taxes for people earning more than $400,000 per year.

  • She also criticized Trump for the NY Times report which claims he paid as little as $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and that he has over $400 million in debt coming due over the next year. Said Harris, "It would be really good to know who the President of the United States, the commander in chief, owes money to" and how that would affect his decision making.

  • Pence made the same argument as Trump saying Trump has paid millions in taxes but not specifying federal income taxes. He also denied the validity of the NY Times report saying it is "not accurate" and saying that Trump has released "stacks" of financial disclosure forms.

  • Pence made sure to reiterate that Biden would be raising taxes for Americans. Initially, he said it would be for all Americans until Harris rebutted it would be for corporations and Americans earning more than $400,000 per year.

On a Peaceful Transfer of Power:

  • Neither candidate committed to a peaceful transfer of power. Harris told Americans to go out and vote. Pence reiterated concerns over mail-in voting fraud and said he was confident that the Trump ticket was going to win.

The Vice-Presidential debate played a larger role this year than it typically does for voters. With both Presidential candidates in their seventies, voters are interested to see what the Vice-Presidential candidates have to say.

The latest national polls from today show about a 10 point lead for Biden overall. The next Presidential debate will be on Oct. 15th

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