Vice President Mike Pence and democratic nominee Senator Kamala Harris face-off in vice presidential debate

The vice presidential campaign debate between Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Vice President Mike Pence in Salt Lake City, Utah, is seen on TV in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 7, vice presidential nominees Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence faced each other in the 2020 vice presidential debate moderated by USA Today’s Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page. 

This debate followed the first presidential debate by eight days, where democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump were asked about climate change, civil unrest and white supremacy. 

Biden’s running mate, Harris, and Trump’s running mate, Pence, discussed topics such as COVID-19, the economy, climate change, what American leadership should look like, the Supreme Court, racial injustice and the election.

Harris and Pence first discussed COVID-19 and how either administration would handle the availability of a vaccine. 

“Donald Trump has put the American people first,” Pence said when referencing the coronavirus epidemic. “We will see tens of millions of doses of a vaccine.” 

Harris responds with criticism of the Trump administration quoting the 211,000 COVID-19 related deaths in America. 

“Whatever you’re claiming you have done, it hasn’t worked,” Harris said.

When moving onto the topic of the economy, Harris told viewers that Joe Biden “measures the health of the economy by the American workers and their families.” She said that the Biden administration will invest tax dollars into infrastructure and clean energy. 

Pence boasted of the success of the Trump administration and denounced the Affordable Care Act, calling it “a mess.”

 “Donald Trump has added 11.6 million jobs to the American economy,” Pence said.

Of the 11.6 million jobs recently added, 22 million jobs were originally lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The topic of the economy transitioned to the topic of the environment when Page referenced the Green New Deal.

Harris emphasized that Biden does not support the Green New Deal, despite it being in the framework on the administration’s website. She also referenced plans in the Biden administration that project seven million new jobs that surround clean and renewable energy. 

Pence claimed that the Trump administration is very proud of what they have done for the environment, claiming that the United States has reduced CO2 more than countries who are still in the Paris Climate Accord. 

According to the New York Times, the United States’ carbon dioxide emissions have declined by more than 10% in the past decade, but more than a dozen other countries have seen declines of more than twice that. 

When asked about what American global leadership should look like, Harris spoke about  President Trump who she claimed had betrayed friends [and allies] and embraced dictators across the world. 

Page transitioned into the topic of the Supreme Court, specifically asking Pence if the confirmation of Amy Coney Barret would put reversing Roe V. Wade on the table.

“I am pro-life,” Pence said. “Joe Biden and Kamala harris support taxpayer funding of abortions all the way up to the time of birth.” 

Harris responded by explaining that no government entity should have power over a woman’s body. 

Towards the end of the debate, Page referenced Breonna Taylor’s death and asked Harris if she thought that justice was achieved in Taylor’s case, she said no.

“[Taylor’s] family deserves justice,” Harris said. “She was a beautiful young woman. … Her life was taken. Unjustifiably and tragically and violently.”

Harris continued onto the topic of police brutality, saying that “bad cops are bad for good cops.” 

Pence assured sympathy on behalf of Taylor while saying he trusted the justice system before bringing up the “inexcusable” rioting and looting that followed the death of George Floyd. 

At the end, the candidates had a moment to speak on the election. Pence told viewers that he was confident in a win for the Trump administration.  

Harris responded with a one worded message: “Vote.” 

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