Joe Biden and Donald Trump are the oldest men ever to run for president of the United States. Especially given President Trump’s recent COVID infection, and the former vice president’s frequent mental lapses, voters should be paying close attention to their running mates.
They had an opportunity to do just that during the first and only vice presidential debate, held in Salt Lake City, when Vice President Mike Pence squared off against Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Joe Biden’s second-in-command.
After the raucous and disappointing head-to-head between Trump and Biden a week earlier, the V.P. contest came off as infinitely more civilized, but at times equally frustrating to viewers.
In particular, it was annoying that Harris dodged significant questions, like whether she and Biden agree with Democrats calling to pack the Supreme Court. Like Biden, she simply refuses to answer the question, an important one to voters.
n fairness, both candidates were evasive at times, but Pence has been in the public eye longer than his rival. We have a good idea where he stands on most questions, while Harris has skittered back and forth on issues like the Green New Deal, “Medicare-for-all” and law and order, bending with the politics of the moment.
We know Pence; we do not know Harris 2020.
Trump supporters looked to Pence to provide the defense of his administration that the president failed to offer up in his debate against Biden.
Pence was solid as a rock and though he started tentatively, got more powerful and convincing as the night wore on.
Pence looked presidential. (In spite of a fly which inopportunely landed on his head for several minutes.)
The same could not be said for Harris. She constantly smirked and frowned and shook her head in derision while listening to Pence; no wonder Democrat primary voters decreed her “unlikeable.”
Also disagreeable were the stale Democratic Party talking points Harris dished up attacking President Trump. She landed a few good punches, but the night belonged to Vice President Pence.
His job was easier. He can boast of the Trump administration’s three-year record of achievement, including extraordinary job creation and income gains for all Americans. Kamala Harris can talk up Biden’s forty-seven years of….what exactly? Surviving?
Democrats want this election to be a referendum on Trump’s personality. Since their party is significantly divided, Biden and Harris studiously avoid issues, since with each declaration they risk alienating some in their own camp.
Hence, they are running mainly on denigrating Trump, as we saw during their interminable and unpleasant convention.
Harris’ most effective attack was directed at the White House’s handling of COVID-19, which she called the “greatest failure of any presidential administration in American history.” Looking into the camera, she told viewers, “The president and vice president knew on January 28 what was happening and they didn’t tell you.”
She also attacked the White House’s suit seeking to dismantle ObamaCare, which she claimed would deny people coverage who have pre-existing conditions.
This is a central theme for Democrats trying to undermine the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and it doubtless alarms a great many Americans.
Asked whether she would take a vaccine when one becomes available, Harris responded that if Dr. Fauci recommended it, she would take it, but she would not do so on the advice of President Trump.
She and other Democrats have made such comments before, intimating that Trump is cooking up a vaccine in his garage and that it can’t be trusted.
Pence rightly called her out on sowing distrust in a future cure, warning that she could cost many people their lives by doing so.
Harris reiterated her ticket’s promise to repeal Trump’s tax cuts, while arguing that taxes would go up only on people making more than $400,000 per year. Both cannot be true.
Mike Pence pointed out that the average family of four had saved $2,000 per year in taxes because of those cuts, and that because of wage hikes that same family saw their income rise by $4,000 last year.
He could have also added that even left-leaning groups like the Tax Policy Center acknowledge that Biden’s plan to raise taxes by $4 trillion during a recession would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and drive down incomes for all American workers, including those in the lowest income quintile.
As Pence said, “The American economy is on the ballot.” He is correct.
Not surprisingly, the economy was the strongest arena for Pence.
He applauded Trump’s renegotiation of trade deals and most specifically NAFTA. He chided Harris for being one of only ten senators to vote against USMCA, as the new deal with Canada and Mexico is called. He also attacked the Biden-Harris $2 trillion version of the Green New Deal and their intention to reenter the Paris Climate Accord, warning that both would hurt the economy.
Pence accused Harris and Biden of promising to end fracking, which is controversial in critical swing state Pennsylvania. She denied the charge, but numerous clips prove Pence correct.
Harris claimed that Trump “lost the trade war with China.” Pence was incredulous and said, “Lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it!”
Pence missed a few obvious opportunities, like celebrating Trump’s historic peace efforts in the Middle East, but he scored many others, such as castigating Democrats for not joining in passing Sen. Tim Scott’s, R-S.C., police reform bill. He noted that Harris had walked out of the room when Scott presented his proposals — not a good look for someone who supports Black Lives Matter.
The V.P. debate should cause some to take a longer look at Harris. If Biden wins in November, and if for some reason he cannot serve out his four years, Harris would become president.