Rabu, 07 Oktober 2020

US Vice-Presidential debate LIVE updates: Kamala Harris and Mike Pence face off weeks before US election - The Sydney Morning Herald


  • US Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris will face off in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the first and only vice presidential debate. The 90-minute showdown will take place under strict coronavirus rules, with candidates 12 feet apart and separated by a plexiglass barrier.
  • Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19 and the growing cluster at the White House has placed the pandemic front-and-centre of the debate. Other topics to be hotly contested include healthcare, the economy, law and order, and the future of the Supreme Court.
  • Pence and Harris are running mates with two of the oldest men to make a tilt for the White House. Trump is 74 and Biden is 77. This puts a much sharper focus on Pence and Harris’ roles as the second in command.
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Watch live: Harris and Pence face off in VP debate

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence are going head-to-head in the first and only vice-presidential debate.

Latest updates

'If our leaders can't get along, how can our citizens?'

By Farrah Tomazin

We’ve just discussed the all important issue of election integrity.

Trump has been railing against mail-in voting for months, and both sides have used the opportunity to call on Americans to vote like their lives depend on it.

The final question however, isn’t one from moderator Susan Page, it’s from an eighth grader at Springville junior high in Utah.

She wrote: "When I watch the news, all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans; when I watch the news, all I see is citizen fight 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?”

It’s a very fine question.

Pence answers by saying that despite his disagreements with Harris, “when the debate is over, we come together as Americans. That's what people do in big cities and small towns across this country so I just want to encourage you, and I want to tell you that we're going to work every day to have government as good as our people.”

Harris responds to the student by saying: “I do believe the future is bright and it will be because of your leadership, and it will be because we fight for each person's voice - through their vote.”

With that, the debate ends and the two candidates leave the stage.

Pence's strategy

By Chris Zappone

Vice-President Pence rebuted Senator Harris' attacks by undermining the credibility of her statements. While not as fancifully 'post-truth' as Donald Trump in his approach, Pence has already made claims that don't exactly match with reality.

Vice President Mike Pence looks through the plexiglass barrier while he answers a question during the vice-presidential debate.

Vice President Mike Pence looks through the plexiglass barrier while he answers a question during the vice-presidential debate.Credit:AP

After Harris was asked if she would trust a Trump administration-era vaccine, she said she would if the doctors expressed confidence. Pence later charged her with undermining public faith in a vaccine.

The overall tone of the debate remains much more dignified then the previous Trump-Biden debate.


What if Trump refuses to accept the result?

By Nick O'Malley

It is staggering that in a 2020 debate in the United States, it is reasonable to ask candidates what they would do should Donald Trump refuse to acknowledge the result of a legitimate election and accept a peaceful transfer of power. Harris uses the question to call for people to get out and vote.
Pence simply responds that he believes Trump will be re-elected on the back of a movement of “everyday Americans” and assert that the Democratic Party has refused to accept the result of the last.
It is significant that he did not state that the Trump campaign will accept a loss and ensure a peaceful transfer of power.

Pence hitting all the talking points

By Chris Zappone

Pence is hitting the right notes to emphasise the Republican talking points around Harris - sowing doubts about her and Joe Biden, Pence testifies to his faith in the president and the people and he maintains an evangelical Christian outlook.

Hitting all the right themes for the Trump campaign's talking points, Vice-President Mike Pence answers a question during the debate.

Hitting all the right themes for the Trump campaign's talking points, Vice-President Mike Pence answers a question during the debate.Credit:AP

Harris looks alive on the issue of racial justice and the scope of the work that needs to be done to heal wounds in the US. She has also taken aim at the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic.

White supremacy rears its ugly head

By Farrah Tomazin

Harris returns to an issue that caused Trump a bit of grief during the debate last week, when he failed to denonce white supremacy.

“When pressed he said ‘stand back and stand by” - and this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump's," says Harris. "He clearly called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and instituted as his first act, a Muslim ban."

Pence, in turn, rejects this and accuses the media and Harris of distorting the facts.

Trump did in fact end up denouncing white supremacy - after the debate.

While it hasn’t received much coverage, Trump walked back his comments last week and the administration is spruiking plans to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan as "domestic terrorists" and to make lynching a federal hate crime.

You can read more about this here.

Hyper-partisan America on display in Supreme Court debate

By Nick O'Malley

These stark differences over the role of the Supreme Court are telling.

Both sides are cloaked in hypocrisy of the debate over whether a Trump nominee should be confirmed before the election next month and both sides have clear and opposing positions that the court will soon likely adjudicate, including the right to abortion (again) and the Affordable Care Act.

President Donald Trump adjusts the microphone after he announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee in September.

President Donald Trump adjusts the microphone after he announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee in September.Credit:AP

The hyperpartisanship of American public life is starkly illustrated whenever the Supreme Court is raised.

Easy to forget that when the conservative giant of the court Antonin Scalia was nominated by Reagan he received unanimous support from the Senate.


A question of race

By Farrah Tomazin

Harris is now talking about race and criminal justice reform.

It’s no secret that the US has been undergoing a national re-examination on structural racism ever since George Floyd gasped for air under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (As it happens Chauvin is no longer in custody after posting $1 million bail this morning).

Harris outlines some of Biden’s promises: a national register of police officers who break the law, reforming private prisons and cash bail; decriminalise marijuana.

Pence, in turn, hits out at Harris for knocking back Republican Senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill, which would have gone some way to addressing the issues she's now raising.

“We don't have to choose between supporting law enforcement and public safety,” he says.

On to healthcare...

By Chris Zappone

On any given year, healthcare is a complex and conflicted issue in the US. With the pandemic spreading, the issue takes on more urgency.

Pence goes on the attack on the politically charged topic of "Obamacare" which is a government mandated insurance market for health insurance.

Senator Kamala Harris on the stage.

Senator Kamala Harris on the stage. Credit:AP

"I hope we have a chance to talk about healthcare because Obamacare was a disaster and the American people remember it well, and President Trump and I have a plan to improve healthcare and to protect pre-existing conditions for every American."

He ends with a refrain, which is arguably 'post-truth', coming from the White House: "But look, Senator Harris, you are entitled to your own opinion that you are not entitled to your own fact."

Pence pushes Harris on court packing

By Farrah Tomazin

Pence is now pushing Harris on the issue of court packing.

Readers might recall that in the first presidential debate, Biden wouldn't directly answer a question about whether he would support increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

The candidates debated packing the court.

The candidates debated packing the court. Credit:AP

It’s also not clear if the Biden/Harris team would abolish the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation. (If abolished, bills could then pass by simple majority - as they do in the House - allowing the Democrats to legislate to place more justices on the Supreme Court).

"I think the American people really deserve an answer, Senator Harris," Pence says.

She doesn't give one.

Never-Trumper doesn't rate Pence's performance

By Nick O'Malley

The leading Republican never-Trumper Bill Kristol is not impressed with Pence's performance.

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2020-10-08 02:37:00Z

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