The Vice Presidential Debate: Going Off With Flying Colors


Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence faced off in the lone vice presidential debate on Wednesday. (edited by me)

Jake Williams

On October 8, the first and only Vice Presidential Debate between current Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City, Utah went off without a hitch. Despite a COVID-19 outbreak in the White House recently, both Harris and Pence were able to debate in person, with safety precautions included with social distancing and plexiglass barriers.

The most noticeable change from the first presidential debate of course, was that the exchanges between Pence and Harris were far more calm and policy driven than that of Trump and Biden in the first debate, and was overall an easier debate for more voters to learn about policy differences between the candidates.

RJ Talley, a student with moderate views contrasted the two debates as, “In comparison to the first debate, I enjoyed this debate much more. As a moderate, moderate-conservative, I was really frustrated watching the first debate, as I felt Biden didn’t capitalize on issues Trump really falls short on, nearly Climate Change and how he handled the Pandemic. Trump frustrated me because he kept interrupting Biden and didn’t adhere to the guidelines he agreed to.”

Talley continued, “This debate was a significant upgrade in both those categories; I really heard from Kamala, and both sides were able to have an actual discussion with both sides out-performing the other on certain topics.”

One of the biggest goals of Senator Harris on Wednesday was to highlight some of the shortcomings of the Trump presidency to the American people in a “prosecutor” style that won over so many people in the Democratic Primary debates. Given that Joe Biden would be 82 years old at the end of his first term if elected, the possibility Harris could take over as President is likely as well, and was a quasi-audition for the highest office in the land.

When discussing the pandemic at the beginning, questioning, “So I want to ask the American people, how calm were you when you were panicked about where you were going to get your next roll of toilet paper? How calm were you when your kids were sent back home from school and you didn’t know when they could go back?” Harris was able to land a big attack early in the debate, which made the American people question if 4 more years of a Trump presidency would be successful at leading America out of one of the worst years in it’s history.

She also of course benefitted from a fly, which happened to land on Pence’s head during the debate, and prompted loads of internet memes mocking the Vice President.


A few of the memes made shortly after the debate about the fly on Pence’s head.


Vice President Pence went with the opposite approach of the President in the first debate, instead opting to come out as calm and collected instead of the more bombastic attack style of Donald Trump on the debate stage, hoping to give swing voters a sense of stability in the Trump administration and defend the President’s record on the economy, the pandemic, and the environment. Pence’s main goal was to lay out the Trump agenda for a second term, without any of the quirks in the President’s personality that could turn off key voters, such as women in the suburbs.

Broadly speaking, the Vice President was able to take care of business and achieved what he wanted to do, while touching on topics about the Biden-Harris ticket that the mainstream media largely glosses over. Pence’s strongest moment during the debate came when he pressed Harris on the issue of packing the Supreme Court, saying, “So I think the American people would really like to know if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed at the Supreme Court of the United States. Are you and Joe Biden, if somehow you win this election, going to pack the Supreme Court to get your way?” Harris refused to give a yes or no answer on the question, which made some voters wonder if a potential Biden-Harris administration would be as moderate and unifying as they claim it would be.

In the end, the debate we saw on Wednesday should be more of a model going forward than the first presidential debate.

Talley agrees, stating, “I think every debate is important and relevant, but this year especially so, just because I think both Trump and Biden didn’t do a great job in their debate. Like I mentioned, Biden wouldn’t capitalize and would instead just talk to the camera and say the same thing over and over, while Trump wouldn’t let him speak half the time. The VP’s allow the President to have someone vouch for them on a personal level, and because both sides were disappointing in the first debate, the VP debate can be used as a point of reference.”

The date of the next presidential debate is still up in the air, with both campaigns and the debate commission trying to work out a date.