US Vice President Mike Pence clashed fiercely with Democratic candidate Kamala Harris about the Corona epidemic in the TV debate dedicated to the candidates for the next vice presidency.
Harris accused President Donald Trump, during the debate that took place after midnight on Wednesday, GMT, of having “the most failed presidential administration in the history of our country.”
Pence said Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s plan to combat the pandemic was an “intellectual theft” from the current White House administration.
Biden is ahead of Trump in opinion polls, 27 days before the elections scheduled for November 3.
In the 90-minute debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Harris was asked whether she would take an approved COVID-19 vaccine that would be distributed before the next election.
She previously refused to say if she would.
Harris, 55, a California senator, said she would take the vaccine if senior US officials approved it, but not if Trump promoted it.
Pence, a former governor of Indiana known for his mild behavior and unwavering loyalty to Trump, responded, saying, “It is unreasonable to continue to undermine public confidence in the vaccine if produced during the Trump administration.”
Pence told Harris, “Senator, I just ask you to stop pushing politics into people’s lives.”
He said he believes there will be a vaccine before the end of this year, although public health officials in the United States have said that such a vaccine is not expected to be distributed before the middle of next year.
The glass barriers separating the two speakers seated at a distance of 3.6 meters were a vivid reminder of the epidemic that has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans.
It was decided to increase the separation between Harris and Pence and put glass barriers on both sides of each of them in order to reduce the possibility of possible transmission of the Corona virus infection.
The organizers of the debates know that Trump may have carried the virus during his debate with Biden, and that he may have transmitted the infection to his opponent and to the debate director, although the tests revealed that they are not infected yet.
The president – who is himself recovering from the virus – returned to the White House on Monday evening after three nights in the hospital.
The debate between the two vice presidential candidates has gained importance because it may be the last in the event that President Donald Trump becomes ill with Coronavirus.
After the president contracted Covid-19, Americans realized that they had two oldest candidates in the history of the United States presidential election. Hence the importance of who will succeed the president if something happens that prevents him from performing his job.
This was a relatively polite forum between two communication professionals, compared to last week’s presidential debate between Trump and Biden, which turned into insults and mutual insults.
But the matter was not without heated debates in Wednesday’s debate.
On the issue of racial justice, Pence expressed his shock at the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. But he added, “There is no excuse for the riots and looting that followed.”
He pointed to one of his guests in the hall, Flora Westbrooks, a black woman whose haircut was destroyed during the unrest in Minneapolis.
“This assumption that you hear constantly from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris … that America is fundamentally racist, as Joe Biden said, that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, is a great insult,” the vice president added.
“Last week, the president of the United States had a debate in front of 70 million Americans and refused to condemn white supremacists,” said Harris – who made history by being the first black woman to stand in the vice president’s debate.
“It wasn’t as if he hadn’t had a chance. He didn’t do it then he insisted and then said when pressed, back off, get ready … that’s part of Donald Trump’s approach,” she said.
Pence rejected Harris’ words, arguing that when the latter was a state attorney in San Francisco, African Americans were more likely to be prosecuted for minor drug crimes than whites or Hispanics.
Other points The debate raged about it:
- Harris said retaliatory tariffs imposed by Trump on China have caused industrialization to stagnate, adding, “I lost that trade war.” Pence replied, “You lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it. Joe Biden has been a fan of Communist China for the past several decades.”
- Harris attacked Trump for paying $ 750 a year in federal income taxes as president, according to an investigation by The New York Times. “When I first heard about it, I literally said,” Do you mean $ 750,000? And it was like no, $ 750. “
- Mrs. Harris said that Trump “betrayed our friends and embraced dictators around the world.” Pence said that Trump had ordered the killings of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
The discussion was marked by questions that the two candidates did not answer directly.
Pence has twice pressed Harris over whether Biden will increase the number of seats in the Supreme Court, which houses nine judges, for a century and a half, but has spoken instead about Trump’s nominee for the court.
Pence did not respond to questions, including how the Trump administration would provide medical insurance for American patients.
When asked by the debate moderator about their chances of taking over the presidency, both candidates avoided delving into the matter.
Pence, 61, spoke about Biden’s handling of the 2009 swine flu outbreak, and Harris – the daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father – spoke about her résumé.