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VP debate recap: Pence defends Trump's record, goes on attack. Harris dodges questions on court packing, tries to claim repealing tax cuts won't raise taxes.


A normal debate

Photo by ERIC BARADAT,ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Well, that looked more like a regular debate.

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) sparred over the coronavirus, the economy, the Supreme Court, and a number of other hot-button issues in a mostly interruption-less vice presidential debate Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

Separated by not one, but two, layers of plexiglass, the two candidates fielded questions from debate moderator and USA Today correspondent Susan Page and left their respective parties with much to cheer on.

Key exchanges

On the coronavirus: The first topic of the night, predictably, was the coronavirus, and on that subject, Harris blasted the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic as the "greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country." After spending most of her time attacking the current administration, she then briefly explained how a Biden-Harris administration would combat the pandemic: tracing, testing, and free vaccines.

Pence defended his and Trump's handling of the pandemic and before clapping back at Harris, suggesting that the Biden-Harris plan sounds an awful lot like what Trump has been doing all along.

"It looks a little like plagiarism, which Joe Biden knows a little something about," Pence said.

On vaccines: When asked by Page if she would take a vaccine administered under the Trump administration, Harris said she would take one if Dr. Anthony Fauci or health experts recommended it, but said "if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I'm not taking it." Page didn't bother to follow up asking for clarification.

Pence jumped in to say, "The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine under the Trump administration is unconscionable ... please stop playing politics with people's lives."

On tax cuts: Harris vowed that Biden would immediately repeal the Trump tax cuts. She said: "On day one Joe Biden will repeal that tax bill, he'll get rid of it, and what he'll do with that money is invest it in the American people."

Pence shot back saying that Harris essentially was admitting that "on day one, Joe Biden's gonna raise your taxes" by repealing the Trump tax cuts, which he argued "saved the average American family of four ... $2,000 in taxes."

Harris responded by denying that Biden would raise taxes on any Americans earning less than $400,000 annually.

On the Supreme Court: Pence took the time in this segment to ask Harris directly if she and Biden would pack the Supreme Court in November if they win the election and if Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed beforehand. Harris, just as Biden did in the first presidential debate, sidestepped the question and refused to give a straight answer.

Pence and Harris battle over Supreme Court, court packing | VP Debateyoutu.be

What else?

The candidates were careful not to interrupt each other, but there were still times in which they locked horns and engaged in some back-and-forth.

Pence kept a cool and calm demeanor most of the debate, yet was still forceful at certain times when defending Trump's record and castigating Biden's and Harris' records.

"You're entitled to your own opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts," he said twice to Harris.

Harris was more conversational and likely came across less robotic. She routinely referred to Biden simply as "Joe" and often endeavored to connect with viewer's emotions.

Anything else?

The highlight of the night, however, may prove to be none other than a fly that landed on Pence's head and stayed there for over two minutes while the candidates talked without ever noticing.

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