Vice President Mike Pence and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris squared up in the only debate between the two in Utah, with Harris attempting to take aim at the Trump administration’s pandemic response.
The showdown between the two came amid questions about the health of President Donald Trump, who was diagnosed with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus last week, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who is nearly 78 years old and whose age has been the subject of much scrutiny. Should either Trump or Biden be incapacitated in some way, Pence and Harris could become president.
Harris alleged that Trump and Pence were informed in late January that the CCP virus “is airborne” and “knew what was happening and didn’t tell you,” referring to the American people. Now, she said that Democratic nominee Joe Biden “has a plan” and Trump doesn’t have one.
Pence dismissed her claim, saying that the Trump administration cut off travel from China, where the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, originated late last year before it spread across numerous countries to become a pandemic. Meanwhile, he said Trump does have a plan and accused Biden of “plagiarism.”
“From the very first day, President Trump has put the health of America first,” he said, adding that “he suspended all travel from China, the second-largest economy in the world.” He noted that Biden said at the time that the rule was “xenophobic” and shouldn’t have happened.
Pence also accused Harris of “undermining confidence” in a possible vaccine after saying that if Trump presented a vaccine, “I’m not taking it.” Pence added: “Stop playing politics with people’s lives. We will have a vaccine before the end of this year.”
The debate—the first one since Trump contracted the virus—came as Trump returned from Walter Reed Military Medical Center to the White House. The pandemic has been one of the main issues since the outbreak started in February and March, with more than 7.5 million cases being reported across the United States.
Biden for the past several months has criticized Trump’s response to the virus, saying he downplayed the severity of the virus, and Harris continued those attacks against Pence, who was named by Trump as the pandemic response coordinator, on Wednesday.
Pence repeatedly sought to highlight Harris’s record of supporting progressive legislation, including “Medicare for All” and co-sponsoring a bill that would pay people $2,000 per month during the pandemic, as well as statements she made about the civil unrest earlier this summer.
“She will have to defend the radical agenda that Joe Biden is carrying for the left,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said. “Remember, Kamala Harris was rated the most liberal member of the entire U.S. Senate in 2019.”
Pence’s guests included the parents of Kayla Mueller, an aid worker killed by ISIS terrorists; Flora Westbrooks, whose business was destroyed by rioters during the George Floyd unrest; and Ann Dorn, the widow of a retired police officer who was killed when a business was looted earlier this year in St. Louis during the riots, according to the campaign.
Carl and Marsha Mueller spoke at the Republican National Convention, criticizing the Obama administration for failing to act when their daughter was captured in 2013 and killed two years later. Dorn also spoke at the same event, saying that the protests descended into riots and chaos, leading to her husband’s live-streamed death.
Harris’s guests include State Rep. Angela Romero of Salt Lake City and teacher Deborah Gatrell of West Valley City, Utah.
“Senator Harris’s debate night guests represent the people she and Joe Biden will fight for in a Biden-Harris Administration, and they both showcase the resolve hard-working Americans have shown as Donald Trump has failed to control the virus and save the economy,” Biden’s campaign said in a statement.