The first and only vice-president debate kicked off on Oct. 7 between perspective Vice President Kamala Harris and current Vice President Mike Pence and was moderated by Susan Page. The debate was broken down into eight topics: COVID, President Trump, Economics, Climate Change, International Relations, BLM, Roe v Wade, and Government Leadership. This article will review what each VP candidate had to say on the matter.
Some text has been edited for clarification, this will be indicated with brackets. All of the quotes are summary transcriptions from the candidates’ comments during the live debate, in which both candidates repeatedly interrupted the others’ statements. All questions were asked by Susan Page during the debate. This is, to the best of our ability, our chronicle of the statements made to help non-viewers understand each candidates’ answers and messages. As such, there is no fact-checking of either participants’ messages.
For a full replay of the debate, please see this coverage from C-SPAN here.
S. Page: What would a Biden administration do in January and February that the Trump administration wouldn’t do? Would you impose lockdowns for businesses and schools in hotspots, a federal mandate to wear a mask?
K. Harris: “Our plan is about what we need to do around a national strategy for contact tracing, for testing, for ministrations the vaccine and making sure that it will be free for all. That is the plan that Joe Biden has and that I have, knowing, that we have to get a hold on what has been going on and we need to face our country, and Joe Biden is the best leader to do that, and frankly this administration has forfeited their right to reelection based on this.”
S. Page: Why is the U.S. Coronavirus death toll, as a percentage of the population, higher than the wealthy countries?
M. Pence: “And that was he (President Trump) suspended all travel from China, the second-largest economy in the world.— Having led the White House Coronavirus task force, that that decision alone brought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since WW II, and I believed it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives. Because within that time we were able to reinvent testing. Within 100 million tests have been done worldwide to date. There were millions of supplies or doctors and nurses that had the support they needed. And we began before the month of February to start developing a vaccine and to develop medicine and therapeutics and saving lives all along the way. And under President Trump’s leadership, and operation at warp speed we believe we will have literally tens of millions of doses of vaccine before the end of this year.”
K. Harris: “Whatever the Vice President is claiming the administration has done clearly it hasn’t done. When you’re looking at over 200,000 dead bodies, American lives, families that are grieving that loss. And you know the Vice President is the head of the task force, and when asked on January 28th how serious it was-the Vice President said when asked, why didn’t you tell anybody, he said because the President wanted people to remain calm.”
S. Page: How can you expect Americans to follow safety guidelines when the White House does not?
M. Pence: “Well, the American people have demonstrated over the last eight months that when given the facts, they are willing to put the health of their families and their neighbors and the people they don’t even know first. President Trump and I have grad confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice.— We told the American people what needed to be done, and the American people make the sacrifices. When the outbreak in the sunbelt happened this summer, again come Americans stepping forward. The reality is the work of the President goes on.— President Trump and I Trust the American people in the best interest of their health. — We are about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people.”
K. Harris: “Speaking of those things that you may not want people to hear, but they need to hear so they can protect themselves. But this administration stood on information that, if you had as a parent, if you had as a worker, knowing you didn’t have enough money saved up, and now you’re standing in a food line because of the ineptitude of an administration that was unwilling to speak the truth to the American people. So let’s talk about caring about the American people. The American people have had to sacrifice far too much because of the incompetence of this administration. It is asking too much of the people. That they would not be equipped with the information they need to help themselves to protect their parents and their children.”
S. Page: Should Americans take a Coronavirus vaccine if approved under the Trump administration?
K. Harris: “If the public health professionals of Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it. I will be the first in line to take it, absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not taking it.”
M. Pence: “The reality is we’re going to have a vaccine in record time, in unheard-of time. We have five companies in phase three clinical trials. We are right now producing tens of millions of doses. The fact that you (Kamala Harris) continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges under the Trump administration I think it is unconscionable. Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives. The reality is we will have a vaccine, we believe before the end of this year, and it will have the capacity to save countless American lives.”
S. Page: Have you had a conversation with President Trump about Presidential disability?
M. Pence: (N/A)
K. Harris: “Let me tell you, first of all, the day I got the call from Joe Biden, it was actually a Zoom call, asking me to serve with him on this ticket was probably one of the most memorable days of my life.— Let me tell you, first of all, the day I got the call from Joe Biden, it was actually a Zoom call, asking me to serve with him on this ticket was probably one of the most memorable days of my life.— I was elected the first woman of color, and a black woman to be elected Attorney General of the state of California, where I ran the second largest department of justice in the United States. Second only to the United States Department of Justice. And there, I took on everything from transnational criminal organizations, to the big banks that were taking advantage of homeowners, to for-profit colleges that were taking advantage of veterans. And then of course, now I serve in the United States Senate as only the second black woman ever elected to the United States Senate. I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee where I’ve been in regular receipt of classified information about threats to our nation in hotspots around the world. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve met with our soldiers in war zones. And I think Joe has asked me to serve with him because he knows that we share a purpose, which is about lifting up the American people. And after the four years that we have seen Donald Trump unifying our country around our common values and principles.”
S. Page: Is the Presidents health information something the voters deserve to know?
M. Pence: “And I do believe it is emblematic of the prayers and concern that have ushered forth for every American impacted by the coronavirus.— The American people have a right to know about the health and well being of their President, and will continue to do that. I’m just extremely grateful, and was more than a little moved by the broad and bipartisan support.”
K. Harris: “Absolutely and that’s why Joe Biden had been so incredibly transparent, and by contrast, the president has not. Both in terms of health records, but also let’s look at it in terms of taxes l. We now know because of great investigative journalism that Donald Trump paid 750 dollars in taxes.— Transparency has to be across the board. Joe (Biden) has been incredibly transparent come over many, many years. The one thing we all know about Joe, he puts the it all out there.”
S. Page: Would raising taxes on the wealthy put the economic recovery at risk?
K. Harris: “Joe Biden believes you measure the the health and strength of America’s economy based on the health and strength of the American worker and the American family. On the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who measures the strength of the economy based on how rich people are doing. This is why he passed a tax bill benefitting the top one percent and the biggest corporations of America, leading to a two trillion dollar deficit for the American people that they will have to pay for. On day one, Joe Biden will repeal that tax bill.— And what he will do with the money is invest it in the American people and through a plan that is about investing it in infrastructure, something Donald Trump said he would do.— It’s about upgrading our roads and bridges and also investing in clean and renewable energy.— Joe Biden will use that money to invest in education. For example, if folks want to go to a two-year community college, it will be free, and across the board, if you have student loan debt, it will be cut by 10,000 dollars.”
S. Page: Should Americans be ready for an economic recovery that will take more than a year?
M. Pence: “You just heard senator Harris tell you a big one, Joe Biden is going to raise your taxes. It’s really remarkable to think I’m right after the time we’re going through a pandemic that lost 22 million jobs, we have already added back 11.6 million moving jobs, because we have a president who cut taxes, rollback regulation, fought four free and fair trade, and secured 4 trillion dollars from congress of the United States indirect payments to families, saved 50 million jobs through the paycheck protection program.— Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to raise taxes, they want to bury our economy under a two trillion dollar Green New Deal— They want to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking, which would cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs all across Heartland.”
K. Harris: “Joe Biden will not raise taxes on anyone who makes less than 400,000 dollars a year. Joe Biden is the one who, during the Great Recession, was responsible for the recovery act that brought America back,— On one hand you have Joe Biden, who is responsible, with Barack Obama, for the affordable care act, which brought health care to over 20 million Americans protected people with pre-existing conditions, and what it also did is it saved those families who otherwise were found bankrupt because of hospital bills they could not afford. On the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who is in court right now trying to get rid of the affordable care act, which means that you will lose protections if you have pre-existing conditions, and this is very important.”
S. Page: Do you believe that Man- Made climate change is responsible for more intense wildfires and hurricanes?
M. Pence: “First, I’m proud of our record in the environment and in conservation. According to all the best estimates, our air and land are cleaner than any time ever recorded, among the cleanest in the world. just a while ago, the President signed the largest investment in our public lands and public parks in 100 years. President Trump had make a commitment to conservation into the environment. With guard to climate change, the climate in changing. The issue is, what is the cause, and what do we do about it? President trump has made it clear that we will continue to listen to the science. — President Trump and I believe that the progress that we have made in a cleaner environment had been happening precisely because we have a strong, free-market economy. What is remarkable is, the United States had reduced CO2 mods that. The counties that are still in the Paris Climate Accord, but we have done it through innovation, and we have done it through natural gas and fracking, which Senator, the American people can go look at the record.”
S. Page: What would the Biden administration’s stance be on the Green New Deal?
K. Harris: “Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact.— Joe Biden’s economic plans, a reparable wall street firm bad sand we create 7 million more jobs than Donald Trump, and part of those jobs that will be created by Joe Biden are going to be about clean energy and renewable energy. Because you see, Joe understands that the West Coast of our country is burning, including my home state of California. Joe sees what is happening in the Gulf states, which are being battered by storms. Joe has seen and talked with farmers in Iowa, whose entire crops have been destroyed because of floods. — Joe is about saying we are going to invest that in renewable energy. It’s going to be about the creation of millions of jobs. We will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, carbon neutral by 2035. Joe has a plan.”
S. Page: Do you believe climate change poses an existential threat?
M. Pence: “We will follow the science payment once again, Senator Harris is denying the fact that they will raise taxes on every American. Joe abide. Said twice in the debate last week that on day one he was going to repeal the tax cuts. Those tax cuts delivered 2000 dollars in tax relief to the average family across America.— You just heard the Senator say she’s found to resubmit America to the Paris Climate Accord. Look, the American people have always cherished our environment.”
S. Page: How would you describe U.S.- China relations?
M. Pence: “First and foremost China is to blame for the Coronavirus. And President Trump is not happy about it.— China and the World Health Organization did not play straight with the American people. He led our personnel into China to get information until the middle of February.— And again the American people deserve to know, Joe Biden opposed President Trump’s decision to suspend all travel from China.”
K. Harris: “The Trump administration’s perspective and approach to China have resulted in the loss of American lives, American jobs, and America’s standing.— For example, they created within the White House and office that basically was responsible for monitoring pandemics. They got rid of it. There was a team of disease experts that President Obama and Vice President Biden dispatched to China to monitor what is now predictable and what might happen. They pulled them out. We’ve mentioned before the trade deal, the trade war, they wanted to call it with China. Resulted in the loss of over 300 manufacturing jobs, and a manufacturing recession. — Let’s talk about standing. PEW, a reputable research firm, has done an analysis that shows that the leaders of all of our formally allied countries have now decided that they hold in higher esteem and respect Xi Jinping, the head of the Chinese communist party than they do Donald Trump comes to the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief of United States.”
Roe v. Wade:
S. Page: How would you want Indiana to respond if Roe v. Wade is overturned?
M. pence: “Now with regard to the Supreme Court, become Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and she’s a brilliant woman and she will bring a lifetime of experience and a sizeable American family to the Supreme court of the United States, and our hope is in the hearing next week, unlike Justice Cavenaugh received with treatment from you and others, that we hope she gets a fair hearing. And we particularly hope that we don’t see the kind of attacks on her Christian faith that we saw before.”
S. Page: How would you want California to respond if Roe v. Wade is overturned?
K. Harris: “Susan, the issues before us, couldn’t be more serious. There’s the issue of choice and I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body. It should be her decision and not that Donald Trump, and the Vice President, Michael Pence, but let’s also look at what else is before the court. It’s the Affordable Care Act like literally in the midst of a public health pandemic when over 210,000 people have died and 7 million people probably have what will be in the future considered a preexisting condition because you contracted the virus.— This means that there will be no more protections if they win for people with pre-existing conditions. This means that over 20 million people will lose your coverage. It means that if you’re under the age of 26, you can’t stay on your parents’ coverage anymore, and here’s the thing. The contrast couldn’t be more clear.”
S. Page: How would the Trump administration protect pre-existing conditions?
M. Pence: “Well, thank you, Susan, but let me just say, addressing your very first question. I couldn’t be more proud to serve as vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it, and this is another one of those cases where there’s such dramatic contrast. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support taxpayer funding of abortion all the way up to the moment of birth. Late-term abortion. They want to increase funding to Planned Parenthood of America. For our part, I would never presume how Judge Amy Coney Barrett would rule on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we’ll continue to stand strong for the right to life.”
Black Lives Matter:
S. Page: Was justice served in the case of Breonna Taylor?
K. Harris:” I don’t believe so. And I’ve talked with Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and her family and her family deserve justice. She was a beautiful young woman. She had as her life goal to become a nurse and she wanted to become an EMT to first learn what’s going on out on the street so she could then become a nurse and save lives. And her life was taken justifiably and tragically and violently. And it brings me to the eight minutes and 46 seconds that America witnessed during which an American man was tortured and killed under the knee of an armed uniformed police officer. And people around our country of every race, of every age, of every gender, perfect strangers to each other, marched shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, fighting for us to finally achieve that ideal of equal justice under law. And I was a part of those peaceful protests. And I believe strongly that first of all, we are never going to condone violence, but we always must fight for the values that we hold dear, including the fight to achieve our ideals. And that’s why Joe Biden and I have said on this subject, look, and I’m a former career prosecutor. I know what I’m talking about. Bad cops are bad for good cops. We need reform of our policing in America and our criminal justice system, which is why Joe and I will immediately ban choke holes and carotid holes. George Floyd would be alive today if we did that. We will require a national registry for police officers who break the law. We will, on the issue of criminal justice reform, get rid of private prisons and cash bail and we will decriminalize marijuana.”
M. Pence: “Well, our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life and the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system, a grand jury that refuse the evidence. And it really is remarkable that as a former prosecutor, you would assume that an impaneled grand jury looking at all the evidence, got it wrong. But you’re entitled to your opinion, Senator. I think, and with regard to George Floyd, there’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd. Justice will be served, but there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed. I mean, it really is astonishing.—And I must tell you, this presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, that America is systemically racist, and that as Joe Biden said that he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities is a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement. And I want everyone to know who puts on the uniform of law enforcement every day, President Trump and I stand with you. And it is remarkable that when Senator Tim Scott tried to pass a police reform bill, brought together a group of Republicans and Democrats, Senator Harris, you got up and walked out of the room and then you filibustered Senator Tim Scott’s bill on the Senate floor that would have provided new accountability, new repeat resources. We don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement, proving public safety and supporting our African-American neighbors and all of our minorities.”
S. Page: What is your definition of the role of American leadership?
K. Harris: “So I love talking with Joe about a lot of these issues and Joe, I think he said it quite well. He says, “Foreign policy, it might sound complicated, but really it’s relationships.” Just think about it as relationships. So we know this in our personal and professional relationships, you got to keep your word to your friends. Got to be loyal to your friends. People who’ve stood with, you got to stand with them. You got to know who your adversaries are and keep them in check.—So Susan it’s about relationships. And the thing that has always been part of the strength of our nation in addition to our great military has been that we keep our word, but Donald Trump doesn’t understand that because he doesn’t understand what it means to be honest.”
M. Pence: “Well, President Trump kept his word when we moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel. When Joe Biden was vice president, they promised to do that and they never did. We stood strong with our allies, but we’ve been demanding. NATO is now contributing more to our common defense than ever before thanks to President Trump’s leadership. We’ve strengthened our alliances across the Asia Pacific, and we’ve stood strong against those who would do us harm. When President Trump came into office, ISIS had captured an area of the Middle East, the size of Pennsylvania, but President Trump unleashed the American military and our armed forces destroy the ISIS caliphate and took down their leader, al-Baghdadi without one American casualty.— Today, two of the ISIS killers responsible for Kayla Mueller’s murder were brought to justice in the United States.—And her family says with a heart that broke the heart of every American, that if President Donald Trump had been president, they believe Kayla would be alive today.”
S. Page: What steps would you take if President Trump refuses a peaceful transition of power?
K. Harris: “So I’ll tell you. Joe and I are particularly proud of the coalition that we’ve built around our campaign. We probably have one of the broadest coalitions of folks that you’ve ever seen in a presidential race. Of course, we have the support of Democrats, but also independents and Republicans. In fact, seven members of president George W. Bush’s cabinet are supporting our ticket. We have the support of Colin Powell, Cindy McCain, John Kasich. Over 500 generals, retired generals, and former national security experts and advisors are supporting our campaign. And I believe they are doing that because they know that Joe Biden has a deep, deep-seated commitment to fight for our democracy, and to fight for the integrity of our democracy, and to bring integrity back to the White House.— We have it within our power in these next 27 days to make the decision about what will be the course of our country for the next four years. And it is within our power, and if we use our vote and we use our voice, we will win. And we will not let anyone subvert our democracy with what Donald Trump has been doing as he did on the debate stage last week, when, again, in front of 70 million people, he openly attempted to suppress the vote. Joe Biden, on the other hand, on that same debate stage, because clearly, Donald Trump doesn’t think he can run on a record because it’s a failed record, Joe Biden on that stage said, Hey, just please vote. So I’ll repeat what Joe said. Please vote.
Mike Pence: But when you talk about accepting the outcome of the election, I must tell you. Senator, your party has spent the last three and a half years trying to overturn the results of the last election. It’s amazing. When Joe Biden was vice president of the United States, the FBI actually spied on President Trump and my campaign. I mean, there were documents released this week that the CIA actually made a referral to the FBI, documenting that those allegations were coming from the Hillary Clinton campaign. And of course, we’ve all seen the avalanche, what you put the country through for the better part of three years, until it was found that there was no obstruction, no collusion, case closed. And then Senator Harris, you and your colleagues in the Congress tried to impeach the president of the United States over a phone call. And now Hillary Clinton has actually said to Joe Biden that, in her words, under no circumstances, should he concede the election. So let me just say, I think we’re going to win this election. President Trump and I are fighting every day in courthouses to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from changing the rules and creating this universal mail-in voting that’ll create a massive opportunity for voter fraud. And we have a free and fair election. We know we’re going to have confidence in it. And I believe in all my heart that President Donald Trump is going to be reelected for four more years.”
S. Page: How are American citizens supposed to get along if elected leaders cannot get along?
M. Pence: “I started following the news when I was very young. And in America, we believe in a free and open exchange of debate. And we celebrate that. It’s how we’ve created literally the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. I would tell you that, don’t assume that what you’re seeing on your local news networks is synonymous with the American people. I look at the relationship between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the late justice who we just lost from the Supreme Court, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. They were polar opposites on the Supreme Court of the United States. One very liberal one, very conservative. But what’s been learned since her passing was the two of them and their families were the very closest of friends. Here in America, we can disagree. We can debate vigorously as Senator Harris and I have on this stage tonight. But when the debate is over, we come together as Americans. And that’s what people do, in big cities and small towns all across this country. So I just want to encourage you, Brecklin. I want to tell you that we’re going to work every day to have the government as good as our people, and the American people each and every day. Love a good debate. We love a good argument. But we always come together and are always there for one another in times of need. And we’ve especially learned that through the difficulties of this year.”
K. Harris: “And brings me to Joe, Joe Biden. One of the reasons that Joe decided to run for president is after Charlottesville, which we talked about earlier. It so troubled him and upset him like it did all of us, that there was that kind of hate and division. What propelled Joe to run for president was to see that over the course of the last four years, what Brecklin described has been happening. Joe has a longstanding reputation of working across the aisle and working in a bipartisan way. And that’s what he’s going to do as president. Joe Biden has a history of lifting people up and fighting for their dignity. You have to know Joe’s story to know that Joe has known pain. He has known to suffer. And he has known love.”
As the election season comes to a close, many of us are anxious to see the future of our nation under the next line of leadership. Regardless of where you stand, if you can – go vote, Falcons. If you can’t, keep yourself informed as the election unfolds.