Today’s Vice Presidential Debate was very different to last week’s presidential debate.
And not just because there was a woman on stage. Indeed, the first woman of colour to take a presidential debate stage.
Rather, because both debaters actually got heard. There were interruptions, but nothing like the level of chaos that President Donald Trump put out during the first presidential debate last week. The debate moderator Susan Page mostly kept things in order, reminding those on stage of the rules.
Kamala Harris set the tone early, refusing to be interrupted by vice president Mike Pence. At one point during her allocated two minutes, she was interrupted and calmly told Pence to stop.
“If you mind letting me finish, we can have a conversation. Ok?” she said.
Pence continued to disrupt Harris, although not to the extent that the President did last week. At times, Harris asked for additional time to address her record.
Pence repeatedly used the line: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, you’re not entitled to your own facts.” Coming from the Trump Administration.
The pair debated the role of the COVID response, the vice presidential role, climate change, China, justice for Breonna Taylor and more.
“We’re going to hold China accountable for what they did to America with the coronavirus,” Pence said at one point.
Harris responded: “The Trump administration’s response to China has resulted in the loss of American lives, American jobs and America’s standing.”
Harris spoke about President Obama creating an infectious disease response unit, including with monitors in China, that the Trump administration removed.
“This is where we are today because of a failure of leadership by this administration.”
She said Trump has “betrayed” the friends of America and embraced dictators around the world.
Harris may have channelled a bit of Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, when she said a number of times “I will not be lectured by the Vice President”.
Pence said he trusts the American justice system, in response to whether justice had failed for Breonna Taylor.
“This idea that America is systemically racist, that there’s implicit bias in law enforcement,” Pence said, “is a great insult to the men and women who work in law enforcement.”
Harris responded that she’s the only one on stage to have “personally prosecuted” crimes. She then took on Trump’s record of failing to denounce white supremacy and telling the Proud Boys to “stand by” last week. She called it a “pattern.”
Harris finished by issuing a plea to Americans to get out and vote.
Pence said, “I think we’re going to win this election”, although didn’t answer the question on whether the Trump team would accept the election result.
Later, it wasn’t long before Kamala Harris was described as “overly emotional” on Australian TV.