Vice presidential candidates face off in Salt Lake

Moderator Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, explains the rules to Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence took place on Wednesday night in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah.

The opponents discussed topics ranging from President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change.

Some key moments in the debate centered on Trump’s positive COVID diagnosis, discussion around the Breonna Taylor case and a question of how either candidacy would react if there was not a peaceful transfer of power after the election — the last question not directly answered by either candidate. There was a brief debate on abortion, during which Pence and Harris reaffirmed their stances of pro-life and pro-choice, respectively.

Much of the social media buzz has revolved around the fly that landed on Pence’s head mid-debate and stayed for a few moments as he argued.

The final question posed by the moderator, USA Today reporter Susan Page, came from an eighth grade student from Springville, Utah. The following submission by Brecklynn Brown was read:

“When I watch the news all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans. When I watch the news all I see is citizen fighting against citizen. When I watch the news all I see are two candidates from opposing parties trying to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are the citizens supposed to get along?”

Pence answered by referring to the well-known friendship between late Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a model for bipartisan understanding. Harris commended the young student as a future leader and discussed Biden’s willingness to compromise, while encouraging the younger generation to vote.

The debate was notably more civil than the Sept. 29 presidential debate between Biden and Trump. However, there were a few tense moments, such as when Senator Harris chastised Pence for talking over her, and when Pence pressed Harris to answer whether or not Biden would pack the Supreme Court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett was appointed. (“Packing” the Court generally means a political party will add a large number of partisan justices from their side of the aisle since there is no limit on how many justices are allowed in the Supreme Court.)

BYU student Lexi Bradshaw is an intern with the Utah Debate Commission and was able to attend the debate in person.

“I was impressed by the exchanges of both candidates, and thought both were able to clearly and concisely state their policy positions, while boldly defending their running mate as well,” Bradshaw said.

“It was an engaging and civil exchange of ideas, and overall, a very exciting night for our country.”

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