The place Harris and Pence gained and misplaced within the vice presidential debate

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On Tuesday evening, Sen. Kamala Harris grew to become solely the third girl to ever participate in a vice presidential debate—squaring off in opposition to Vice President Mike Pence in an altogether calmer, extra constructive spectacle than final week’s contentious presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. 

It was an opportunity for the California senator and former prosecutor to make a case, earlier than a nationwide tv viewers, about why the American folks ought to vote for change after 4 years of the Trump administration. And whereas Pence was unwavering in his protection of the administration’s insurance policies and monitor document (so unwavering, in actual fact, {that a} fly quickly made itself home on the vice president’s head throughout the debate), it was Harris’ offensive on a spread of points—from the coronavirus pandemic and the financial system, to local weather change and legal justice reform—that set the evening’s tone.

Right here’s what landed, and what didn’t, for each candidates in Salt Lake Metropolis on Tuesday evening.

Harris hits laborious—and early—on Trump’s dealing with of COVID-19

Harris pulled no punches from the get-go when requested concerning the administration’s dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic. “The American folks have witnessed what’s the biggest failure of any presidential administration within the historical past of our nation,” she stated in reply to moderator Susan Web page’s first query.

Harris evoked revelations from journalist Bob Woodward’s recent book on the Trump administration, which experiences that the President knowingly downplayed the hazards of a virus that has killed greater than 200,000 Individuals so far. “They knew what was occurring, and so they didn’t inform you,” she stated, including that the administration “nonetheless [doesn’t] have a plan” for coping with the pandemic. “Properly, Joe Biden does.”

Pence was instantly placed on the defensive and was left to insist that “from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the well being of Individuals first.” The vice chairman lauded the administration’s efforts to restrict vacationers from China within the early days of the pandemic and talked up the prospects of a vaccine arriving in brief order. However Harris landed early, and successfully, by focusing on undoubtedly the administration’s largest weak point—one which, according to polls, could nicely value Trump the election. 

Pence strikes again on taxes and environmental rules—however Harris talks up Biden’s financial insurance policies

After taking a swipe on the President for his lately reported $750 federal income tax bill, Harris took purpose at Trump for his 2017 tax act and accompanying financial insurance policies, drawing sharp contrasts with Biden’s financial proposals. Trump’s insurance policies, she stated, have solely benefited “the highest 1%” and exacerbated a funds deficit “that the American folks must pay for,” whereas Biden would repeal the Trump tax cuts, pursue public investments in infrastructure, and purpose to make school extra inexpensive for American households struggling to pay for greater training.

However Pence noticed a window to strike again on the Biden-Harris ticket, claiming they wish to “elevate taxes” and “bury our financial system” underneath the pressure of investments just like the Inexperienced New Deal, which might “abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking”—sensitive topics in locations like Pennsylvania, a swing state with a strong fracking business. That put Harris on the defensive, with the senator pressured to make clear that “Joe Biden is not going to ban fracking” and keep that Biden will restrict tax will increase solely to these making greater than $400,000 per 12 months.

Pence additionally took purpose at Biden and Harris with reference to commerce, hitting Biden for a previously accommodative stance towards China—one which the previous vice chairman has since walked again to more closely align with Trump’s harder line. Pence additionally criticized Harris for voting in opposition to the USMCA commerce deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, saying she had put a “radical agenda forward of American employees and American jobs.”

Harris countered by slamming Trump for a “bizarre obsession” with erasing President Obama’s accomplishments—one which she stated has harmed the American financial system, in addition to the nation’s overseas coverage and its credibility all over the world. However the exchanges confirmed Pence take purpose at one of many few areas the place Trump, and Republicans at massive, handle to consistently poll ahead of Democrats.

Harris supplies ‘historical past lesson’ on SCOTUS and refuses to be ‘lectured’ on legal justice

Later within the night, as the subject of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court docket got here up, Pence famous that quite a few presidents have beforehand made Supreme Court docket nominations throughout an election 12 months —although Senate Republicans managed to dam President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.

Harris was clearly ready and sprang on the chance to offer a “historical past lesson”—noting with relish that President Abraham Lincoln, a favourite of President Trump and different Republicans, had refused to just do that in 1864, opting as a substitute to wait until after the upcoming election. It was a intelligent instance to notice, and Harris went on to slam the Trump administration for making dozens of “purely ideological” nominations of “substandard” federal judges—not certainly one of whom, she asserted, is Black.

That led to an alternate on legal justice reform, a heated social and political subject within the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the hands of regulation enforcement earlier this 12 months. Harris leaned on her expertise within the legal justice system to name for intensive reform and pointed to Biden marketing campaign proposals to ban police chokeholds, construct a nationwide registry of police misconduct, finish money bail, and decriminalize marijuana. 

Pence jumped on the prospect to expound on the President’s “regulation and order” stance, describing the notion that “America is systemically racist” and that regulation enforcement has “an implicit bias” in opposition to minorities as “an awesome insult.” He additionally criticized Harris for her personal function as a legal prosecutor and claimed that she “didn’t elevate a finger” to vary issues as soon as on Capitol Hill as a senator. 

However Harris struck again with equal conviction, insisting to Pence that she wouldn’t be lectured on prosecuting the regulation and insisting that “implicit bias does exist” within the legal justice system. She additionally criticized the President’s document on race relations, from his feedback about immigrants to his equivocating of white supremacists with anti-racist protesters.

It was an alternate that probably wouldn’t have performed a lot to vary peoples’ minds with reference to social justice and legal justice reform, nevertheless it confirmed Harris combating her nook successfully—at the same time as she’s confronted criticisms from some on the left for her document as a prosecutor.

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