If political debates were desserts, last week’s Presidential Debate would be Baked Alaska with sparklers, and tonight’s Vice Presidential debate would be Tapioca. True, there were no fireworks in the Vice Presidential Debate moderated by USA’s Susan Page and held at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the place of pyrotechnics was mundane order and function. Seated behind desks, and 12 feet apart behind plexiglass screens, Vice President Pence and Vice President Candidate Kamala Harris proceeded to make their cases to the American people.
Here are My five key takeaways from the Vice President Debate:
1. Vice President Pence dominated overall on the issues.
Pence effectively defended Trump’s Administration on seven of the nine topics the moderator brought up and surgically exposed the opposition’s weaknesses on Energy, Taxes, Climate Change, Supreme Court, Criminal Justice Reform, Law and Order, Systemic Racism, China, and Foreign Policy. He made a case for the American People on the economy and crafted the other side of the equation if a Biden/Harris administration held the reigns. Pence came back to the contrast about economic growth several times during the debate leaving no doubt that a vote for Biden/Harris means crashing the recovery ongoing and returning to the anemic, no-growth policies of Obama/Biden.
Pence with precision tagged his opponent’s policies from energy, regulations, Climate change, and taxation to less money in the middle-class wallet, retirement, lower wages, higher cost of living, and above all, fewer job opportunities. It was a welcomed surprise when Pence dismantled the Science Denier/Climate Change attack by delivering a concise review of the facts in a cogent manner. Pence left Harris visibly rattled on China, The Green Deal, Isis, and taxes, but his deepest shake was when he reached out on stacking the court. Harris was wobbly numerous times over the court issue. He also challenged Biden’s record and Harris’s record sufficiently. Pence was on point, revealing the ticket as radical.
Pence also delivered on the last moderator’s question of the night, which was on threat to democracy and transitioning governance. Pence, with passion and indignation, said, “Harris’s party has spent the last four years trying to overturn the results of the last election while the previous administration tried to spy on his campaign. “
Pence also said Hillary Clinton has also said Biden should under no circumstances, should concede the election.
2. VP Nominee Harris delivered the Biden/Media COVID talking points flawlessly.
By far, her strongest performance came at the start of the debate as she prosecuted Trump and his administration for the charge of incompetent and negligent handling of the pandemic. Her dotted -out list was tightly scripted and layered one falsehood on top of another. It did not matter that Trump did not dismantle the White House Pandemic Group, China and WHO were not forthcoming to any country back in January, no person went without a ventilator, or any of the stacks she spewed, including the fatality rate cherry-picking -all of the lines were the exact media propaganda utilized to wage war against the president daily in the task force briefings. Kamala Harris delivered on the lies (review media lies here and here).
The moderator’s two-minute rebuttal time left Pence scrambling to go back over each one, leaving many still floating out there. When the dust settled, Harris won the COVID point with a caveat. The moderator’s question had false assertions baked into the premise stated, and Harris could lie with impunity as fact-checkers will continue to cover for her as they have for the Democrats and media all along. Pence was effective with his rebuttal on Swine Flu, Dr. Fauci’s corroboration of Trump’s actions as more than adequate, and what the numbers could have been if the Task Force Plan had been a failure.
But Pence failed to adequately respond to the vicious charge that the administration covered up the threat of the virus in January and early March. They did not-but Pence needed to nail that one to the wall and make it stick, and he did not. Pence did have a TKO moment when he got Harris to flippantly tell Americans she would not take the vaccine if Trump told her to. Pence accused Harris of “undermining public confidence” in the vaccine and tells her to “stop playing politics with people’s lives.”
The other subject Harris held her own, and we call a draw, is on Healthcare. Harris’s framing of the ACA surviving related to Supreme Court pick was effective for Biden’s base. Pence corrected her lie about pre-existing but punted on the direct question of how the Trump administration would deliver pre-existing coverage. In September, President Trump signed an executive order which said: “access to health insurance despite underlying health conditions should be maintained.”
3. Pence forced Harris to throw the progressive left under the bus, again during the debate.
Like the Trump/Biden Presidential debate, once again, the Biden /Harris team abandon the Bernie Bros/AOC crew on Fracking, Medicare for all, court-packing, and The New Green Deal. Harris even appeared to forget she co-sponsored AOC’s, The New Green Deal, in the senate and further feigned any knowledge of that bill’s language being the ” crucial framework “to what is up on the Biden/Harris campaign website. Needless to say, the left-wing of the party was not pleased. Ms. Cortez live tweeting during the debate :
Fracking is bad, actually
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 8, 2020
4. Predictably and grotesquely, Harris played the “Race Card.”
Harris repeatedly refused, like Biden, to answer the court-packing question and looked flustered. She pivoted and laid down the race card as an escape. Pence pressed again, “You once again gave a non-answer. Joe Biden gave a non-answer. The American people deserve a straight answer, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, the straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court if they somehow win this election.”
Harris responded, again forgoing the question: “Do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is black? This is what they’ve been doing. You want to talk about packing a court? Let’s have that discussion.”
President Trump has nominated and confirmed over 200 judges to the lower courts and flipped several circuit appeals courts, and those include minority and female judges. He has done so in his cabinet and throughout government appointments, and any inference he has purposefully not been inclusive to qualified candidates is absurd and divisive.
5. Harris fumbled her well-rehearsed “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine, Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” Lincoln Kill shot.
Like a little young girl on Christmas morning, Harris waited breathlessly all night to deliver the Abraham Lincoln gut punch on filling an empty court seat during an election year. Unfortunately for Harris, she still managed to miss core mass with her calculated Jab. Harris took a deep breath, cocked her head, and zinged Pence, “I am so glad you brought up history, let’s talk about history, let’s do that. “ Harris claimed that ” Lincoln refused to nominate a candidate for Chief Justice in October 1864 because, honest Abe said, it’s not the right thing to do and wanted the people to vote first.”
Hardly accurate history. “Honest Abe” sent no nominee to the Senate in October 1864 because the Senate was not in session until December. Lincoln immediately sent his nomination the day after Senate was back in session, and his nominee was confirmed that very day! Lincoln even used the nominee to entice the nominee to campaign for him, as winning the election was paramount. Lil Kamala’s fable was pure fiction.
If you did not get a chance to watch the whole debate (click here), here is a good series of short videos that give a good view of Mike Pence’s takedowns on key issues.
In terms of the debate analytics: By CBS News’ count, Pence vocally interrupted Harris 10 times, while Harris interrupted Pence 5 times. Pence also spoke for three more minutes, controlling 38 minutes and 2 seconds of time, compared to Harris’ 35 minutes and 20 seconds. The number of questions posed to each was roughly equal. Page, the moderator, directed 12 initial questions to Pence and 11 to Harris, while Harris got two follow-up questions to Pence’s one. Both were given nine chances to offer rebuttals. Hence, a fair and balanced debate in terms of both debate participants to make their points.
Susan Page, the moderator, did a reasonable job of moderating, handled both candidates well, and was firm yet not tyrannical in enforcing time. She kept her ego out of the debate, but the list of prepared questions were all skewed to set up a democrat strength and often pitched with inaccurate information in the premise of the question, for example, here. The Debate Commission seems to only be able to formulate questions that fit with liberal ideology and never seems to remember the conservative members of the electorate.
In terms of optics and optics do matter – Harris had a tough night. VP Mike Pence was calm, even-tempered, measured, and in command of his physical impulses. His Midwestern common sense came across as genuine, and his deliberate delivery was slow and reassuring. His effect matched his surroundings and words. America witnessed a mature, disciplined, conscientious, non-ego driven Statesman whose values and character were evident. He was respectful but strong and certainly nobody’s doormat.
VP Nominee Kamala Harris struggled to hide her anxiety and disdain, rolling her eyes, smirking, inappropriately grinning and laughing. At times the theatrical presentation resulted in an annoying voice pitch, and she dripped with condescension. This was not a good look for her. Harris spent time lecturing not only Pence but the audience too with references to defining words for them they were too daft to know, and scolding Pence several times, ” I will not be lectured by you ” whenever Pence held her feet to the fire. This was not a good look for Harris. She did not present as authentic, relatable, and, most of all, mature. Harris’s neuroticism was on full display, and she often spoke of the Presidential nominee Biden in an overly familiar, almost too casual way where she placed herself at the top of that relationship food-chain.
America witnessed an impulsive, coquettish, arrogant, patronizing, novice on the political big stage. Harris is no Ingenue- but she likes to play one to the rafters. Harris likely came off as “Obama-esque” to the faithful handlers, but like before, this will not materialize in additional support for her at the top of the ticket or bottom in the general electorate. For sure, if you are a Democrat, it would not be offensive, for Republicans, just the opposite. For undecided voters, the optics were clearly negative on this point for Kamala Harris.
The spin was immediate and evident as the “FLY” was all Biden’s team and the media obsessed over, even fundraising over the insect lounging in Pence’s silver fox mane. Check out the feature photo of this article or see here. When the media, which is mostly left-wing, is focused on the fly on Mike Pence’s head, you know, they know, Mike Pence won the debate. But as hours passed post-debate, the “Fly” had to move over to make room for “Mansplaining!” Yes, indeed, from Van Jones to George Stephanopoulos and Twitter in between, the comical charge rang out:
IRONY: Stephanopoulos mansplains to a woman about what he – a man – thinks mansplaining is.pic.twitter.com/fIDjv0UZmA
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) October 8, 2020
There was no viral moment that really makes this debate stand out. Like almost every other vice presidential debate in history, not many will really remember this tomorrow and most likely will not move the needle much in terms of polling. The debate was very content-rich, and those who will follow up with due diligence on facts could have been enlightening. However, with two debates down, the radical left progressive wing isn’t feeling the love “no more.”
This might translate into a few of those voters doing what they did in 2016 by not casting a vote. There may be some independents, especially true undecided suburban moms who might have been turned off by Harris’s optics and are bright enough to know she is the real head of the ticket. Overall, the needle, if it moves, will not be dramatic. Pence offered a template for Trump for future debates if he will take it.
November 3rd is drawing close, and every American must start paying close attention now and above all, VOTE!