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Vice Presidential Debate

By Dante Dellaporta, Staff Writer

The first and only Vice Presidential debate of the 2020 election year, took place on Oct. 7, at Kingsbury Hall, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

California Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence discussed several major topics, including a COVID-19 vaccine, the state of the American economy, as well as the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, and by extension, it’s global ramifications. 

Pence claimed that the current president Donald Trump and his administration will have a coronavirus vaccine ready to be administered by the end of the year. Pence repeatedly assured the viewers that not only will a coronavirus vaccine be administered before Jan. 2021, but that the United States military will be administering the vaccine. 

Pence said that the Trump administration has been in contact with several developers of a COVID-19 vaccine and has “five companies in stage three of a clinical trial … and we’re right now producing tens of millions of doses.” 

The Trump campaign has set out another promise to the American people, assuring them that a vaccine will be available before the year is over. 

In contrast to Vice President Pence’s remarks, Harris told viewers how “whatever the Vice President is claiming the administration has done, clearly hasn’t worked.” Harris cited the 210,000 deaths the coronavirus has taken, in addition to the fact the Trump administration knew the deadliness and potential of COVID-19. 

When asked why the administration act didn’t sooner, Pence said “the president wanted people to remain calm.”

Harris’ rebuttal to Pence was asking the American people to remember how calm they were upon the discovery of what the coronavirus and its ramifications meant for their lives. 

USA Today journalist Susan Page reminded candidates that the unemployed rate is currently 7.9%, and 11 million jobs that existed in the beginning of the year, have yet to return. In order to combat this, the Biden-Harris campaign has promised to raise taxes on those who make more than $400,000 a year, generating four trillion dollars, in potential government spending. According to many economists, this move can curb entrepreneurial ventures that fuel growth and overall weaken the regrowth of the economy in a post-coronavirus world. When asked to elaborate on the four trillion dollar tax raise, Harris said “Joe Biden thinks [the economy] is about investing in the people of our country.”

While maneuvering around the core question, Harris pledged that her and Biden’s campaign will cut student debt for those who come from a family earning less than $125,000 a year, by $10,000. Harris said the same people who fall in the aforementioned income bracket, will be able to attend public university for free. Discussing the future of our economy, Harris and Pence went back and forth over Biden’s promise to repeal the Trump administration’s tax cut. According to Pence, this tax cut gave the average working family $2,000 in a tax cut. Despite this, Harris reassured voters that Joe Biden will not raise taxes on those who make under $400,000 a year. Harris also said that Biden will not end fracking. 

Both candidates frequently led viewers off-track from the initial question being asked. Many times, throughout the debate, the candidates back-tracked their thoughts and harped on previously discussed issues ad nauseum. 

While there were interruptions and false claims made during the debate, the public did not react as negatively to the vice presidential debate compared to the first presidential debate.

Post students wanted the debate to ask more specific questions to the candidates.

“I would have liked the moderator to ask more questions on each topic to ensure a more in depth response on each topic,” Allison Montefusco, a senior public relations major, said. 

This does raise questions on whether or not the structure of the debate should change. 

“I think each person should get a certain amount of uninterrupted time to talk, then the other, afterwards, they respond to what the other said once both candidates finish stating their points,” Justin Finn, a freshman business major said.

Many viewers find it frustrating that candidates only have two (usually interrupted) minutes to discuss their views and policies on the topic in question. These questions are almost always full of nuance and complex layers of understanding, and explaining your solution in two minutes is impossible. It almost seems as if the debate is purposely designed this way to limit a proper verbal dialogue. No changes to the debate style currently used are being made currently.

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