After the mess of the presidential debate last week, expectations lowered for the vice presidential debate. However, both Kamala Harris and Mike Pence were more civil compared to the previous debate. For the most part, the candidates didn’t speak over each other and remained within the given time. Yet they failed to answer some questions directly, and the majority of Americans aren’t likely to change their vote.
Opinion writers Jillian Carey and Evan Holden duke it out on whether the presidential debate made either President Donald Trump or Joe Biden look worse.
Instead of constantly attacking each other, Harris and Pence calmly debated. Outbursts such as “Will you shut up man?” and the calling of another opponent a “clown” were fortunately not present in this debate. According to CBS News, Pence interrupted Harris 10 times, whereas Harris interrupted him five times. Pence’s constant interruptions resulted in Harris stating one of her most memorable lines of the night: “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”
Harris’ line was met by the applause of other American women who related to the constant interruptions of Pence. A study done by Stanford University in 1975 shows that men are more likely to interrupt women, with the ratio of a woman interrupting being one in 48. Merchandise of Harris’ line is also being sold and used as a meme.
Another reason why this debate was better than the last is because the candidates remained in their given time. According to CBS News, Pence spoke for 38:02 and Harris spoke for 35:20. Upon viewing the debate, Pence more noticeably talked over his given time and spoke over the moderator’s cues.
Pence also dodged many important questions, leaving Americans confused. When asked about banning abortion in Indiana if Roe v. Wade was overturned, Pence answered the questions by talking about the killing of Qassem Soleimani and about Democrats attacking Amy Coney Barret’s faith. Pence also sidestepped when asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election, instead speaking about moving the U.S. embassy. Furthermore, Pence didn’t explain President Trump’s health care plan, causes and solutions to climate change or anything regarding the Rose Garden ceremony that allegedly spread COVID-19 in the White House.
Still, Harris left many questions unanswered as well. She failed to answer whether the Biden administration would result in lockdowns and a federal mask mandate and dodged when Pence asked her if she’d support packing the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in Pence calling her out by stating, “You’ve refused to answer that question.”
Most notably, both candidates were asked about what would happen if Trump refused to peacefully transfer his power if he loses the election. Unfortunately, both talked around that question, with moderator Susan Page then asking, “Isn’t this information the voters deserve?”
Fortunately, the candidates did discuss the important issue of COVID-19. Harris immediately criticized the Trump administration and their handling of the virus, mentioning the 210,000 people who died. Pence defended the administration and said that “the health of Americans [is] first” and that Biden’s plan against the virus “looks a little bit like plagiarism.”
When asked about climate change, Harris instead talked about Biden’s economic plan despite Biden stating that he doesn’t support the Green New Deal when it’s clearly on the Biden-Harris website. Pence explained that the U.S. has the cleanest air than ever before and the cleanest water in the world. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. has the cleanest air and its air quality has improved. However, the U.S. is ranked 26th in the world on sanitation and drinking water.
According to a poll by ABC 7, 22% of participants said that the debate changed their view on Pence and that 26% changed their view on Harris. Because of the constant dodging of questions, it’s clear that the majority of American people weren’t swayed by the candidates. As the only vice presidential debate of the campaign season, Biden and Trump need to followup on the unanswered questions to give Americans a clear understanding on their stances.
Julia Cheng is a freshman media arts and design major. Contact Julia at firstname.lastname@example.org.