Vice presidential debate returns surprising maturity to the podium


Melissa Joseph

Graphic made by Melissa Joseph

After last week’s circus show of a presidential debate, the vice presidential debate showed us all how a debate should be held, despite which side of politics one finds themself on. The debate pitted Senator Kamala Harris against current Vice President Mike Pence in an hour and half debate that many found, well, boring. Yet, boring is not a bad way for a debate to go, as each candidate proved their superb oration and debate skills on stage.

Unlike the bickering and name calling debate of last week, Pence and Harris squared off against each other in a respectable fashion, going over issues such as climate change, the Supreme Court nomination, and the current pandemic ravaging America. 

Harris came out strong from the beginning, citing the Trump administration’s lackluster response to the pandemic. It was interesting to note that Pence refused to admit to the failure of Trump’s COVID-19 response, oftentimes fluffing his words and deflecting hard questions to other areas that he deemed easier to discuss. He did however, point to Trump’s early blocking of all travel from China, saying that Biden is too soft on communist China and that he would never have done what Trump did.

Pence frequently referred to the swine flu pandemic which occurred while Biden was Vice President during Obama’s administration, citing that he failed in his response to the issue. The issue that I have with this is that the swine flu was not nearly as deadly as the coronavirus, with the number of deaths being drastically smaller than that of the coronavirus.

When the topic of science came up involving global warming, Pence stated that his administration had helped the environment immensely. Harris rebutted his argument by saying the policies of the Trump administration, such as pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord and lifting restrictions on industries that cause adverse effects to our climate were negatively impacting the country.

During the debate Pence repeatedly accused the Biden administration of supporting the Green New Deal, legislation that Biden has repeatedly expressed opposition to. It seems to me that Pence, like Trump, has a penchant for denying facts and making up statements, even if they are to a lesser degree.

In all, the debate went well. Both candidates did an exceptional job of staying on topic and respecting each other’s time limit, aside from a few interruptions and a few times where each candidate went over the time limit.

Harris started out the debate strongly and with confidence, rebutting many of Pence’s points with facts. Yet as the debate went on, Pence took more of a lead when discussing the issue of stacking the Supreme Court, to which Harris had no response, as well as when Harris’ background as an attorney was brought up.

By the end of the debate, I would say both candidates did equally well, however I would argue that Harris did a slightly better job in general. It was a nice change of pace from the chaos of the last debate, and ultimately is unlikely to sway voters either way. One thing is for certain, it will set the precedent for the next presidential debate, as it showed America how a debate is supposed to be held: with respect and dignity.

Jack Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JackAttack722