After the “dumpster fire” of a U.S. presidential debate last week between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris took the stage on Wednesday night in what turned out to be a calmer set of discussions.
‘Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking’
Kamala Harris responds to Pence's false claim that Biden will raise taxes "on day one" of his presidency: "I think this is supposed to be a debate based on fact and truth."— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 8, 2020
When Pence interrupts, she says, "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking" #VPdebate https://t.co/78k94KOfNV pic.twitter.com/Ibi4lPeLg7
One of the harshest criticism’s of the presidential debate was the number of interruptions, largely by Trump. There were certainly fewer interruptions during the vice presidential event, but Harris was quick to put Pence in his place the few times he attempted to speak over her.
Her “I’m speaking” comeback has already gotten a lot of attention, with some calling it her “mom voice.”
"I'm speaking." The battle cry of every woman. https://t.co/zsaNl81U9S— Elisa Cardnell (@ElisaCardnell) October 8, 2020
When Kamala says, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking,” all the hair goes up on the back of my neck. She is a BAD ASS. #VPDebate— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) October 8, 2020
She has an experienced mom voice. He's terrified of mothers, so he never had a chance.— c_w (@w_cynthia) October 8, 2020
There are already T-shirts being made with the line printed on the front, something many on social media said they would proudly purchase and wear.
Can’t wait to get my I’M SPEAKING t-shirt.— Emmy Rossum (@emmyrossum) October 8, 2020
I’m buying an “I’m speaking” t-shirt to wear in meetings at work. 😒 https://t.co/qxOv7VLABn— Dr. Jennifer Golightly (@jengolight) October 8, 2020
‘Greatest failure of any presidential administration’
The debate began on the topic of COVID-19, which has taken the lives of more than 210,000 Americans with more than seven million confirmed infections in the country to date.
Harris was quick to say the management of the coronavirus pandemic by the Trump government is the “greatest failure of any presidential administration” in the history of the U.S.
She maintained that the Trump administration knew about COVID-19, how its spread and how many people it is likely to impact, on Jan. 28, opposed to March.
“They knew what was happening and they didn’t tell you,” Harris said, adding that Trump and Pence have “forfeited their right to reelection” after this pandemic.
The U.S. senator went on to call the Trump administration inept and incompetent for how it handled the health crisis in the country.
Pence said it was the U.S. president’s decision add restrictions to Chinese travel, which “saved hundreds of thousands of American lives,” a move he said Biden called “xenophobic.” The vice president went on to explicitly say that China is to blame for the global COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked about a “super spreader” event that seemed to occur at the White House Rose Garden, and how the American people can be expected to follow rules not being put into practice by top U.S. official, Pence said he is “confident” that Americans will put the information around COVID-19 measures into practice.
‘Stop playing politics with people’s lives’
Debate moderator Susan Page asked Harris if there is a vaccine, would the U.S. senator take the immunization and if she would urge Americans to do the same.
“If the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”
Pence shot back by saying the U.S. is going to have a vaccine “in record time,” expected “before the end of this year.”
“The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconscionable,” he said. “Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives.”
He went on to say that what “failure” looks like in a pandemic is 2009 when the swine flu arrived in the U.S.
“If the swine flu had been as lethal as the coronavirus in 2009, when Joe Biden was vice president, we would have lost two million American lives,” Pence said.
‘Bad cops are bad for good cops’
Racial justice, and the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, were also discussed in Wednesday night’s debate.
Harris said Taylor’s family “deserves justice” and stated that “bad cops are bad for good cops.”
“We always must fight for the values that we hold dear, including the fight to achieve our ideals,” she said. “We need reform of our policing in American and our criminal justice system.”
Pence indicated that he trusts the U.S. justice system, adding that there is “no excuse” for what happened to Floyd, but there is also no excuse for the rioting and looting that took place after his death.
“It really is astonishing,” the vice president said. “This presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, that America is systemically racist and that, as Joe Biden said, that he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities, is a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.
‘America, you deserve better’
Senator Harris stressed that Americans currently have a president who refused to condemn white supremacists, adding that this is a “pattern” for Trump.
“It wasn’t like he didn’t have a chance, he didn’t do it and then he doubled down,” she said, referring to Trump telling Proud Boys to “stand by.”
While Harris was speaking, Pence interrupted to say that it is “not true” that the U.S. president did not condemn white supremacy.
Harris went on to highlight that Trump called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” and said “there were fine people on both sides” of the rally when neo-Nazi’s were present at an anti-racist protest in Charlottesville, Va.
“America, you deserve better,” Harris said.
In his response, Pence said “selectively editing” comments “just like Senator Harris did” is why Americans “dislike” the media so much.
“Senator Harris conveniently omitted, after the president made comments about people on either side of the debate over monuments, he condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and has done so repeatedly,” Pence said. “President Trump has Jewish grandchildren, his daughter and son-in-law are Jewish, this is a president who respects and cherishes all of the American people.”
A fly lands on Mike Pence’s head
A lighter part of the debate that quickly took social media by storm was when a fly landed on top of Pence’s head and stayed there for more than two minutes
The unexpected moment has already resulted in a number of comedic comments and images on Twitter, including from Biden himself.
Even Gayle King mentioned the “interesting timing” of the fly landing on Pence’s head when he was speaking about system racism.
Fly as metaphor for CBS’ @GayleKing: “I think it’s very interesting timing that a fly would land on Mike Pence’s head at that particular time when he said that there really wasn’t systemic racism. You saw the fly basically going: ‘Say what?’...a memorable moment.” #VPDebate pic.twitter.com/WnEe4hlSKK— Brent Baker (@BrentHBaker) October 8, 2020
Some people suggested the fly was the answer to a brutal election campaign.