By Jax DiEugenio
Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris sparred over social issues and policy at the University of Utah on Oct. 7 during the first and only vice presidential debate, setting the stage for a close election in November.
As reported by The New York Times, the incumbent president was being treated at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for Covid-19, which became a large topic for the evening’s agenda.
As stated in a transcript of the debate provided by USA TODAY, Senator Harris expressed her concern with a vaccine, stating, “If the public health professionals, (such as) Dr. Fauci … tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”
Vice President Pence refuted, as reported by USA TODAY. “The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconscionable,” Pence said. He followed by asking her to “stop playing politics with people’s lives.”
The debate then went on, as reported by Forbes, to the economy. Vice President Pence pointed to the rebound in the economy following months of lockdowns.
Senator Harris, according to Forbes, discussed revoking the Trump tax cuts passed in 2017, stating that “‘the top one percent and the biggest corporations of America’” get the best benefits, leaving the common Americans in the dust. She called for an economic plan that would cut student debt by $10,000 and reinvest money into infrastructure.
Race relations, according to Politico, were not a major topic of the evening but was mentioned a few times by Senator Harris and Vice President Pence.
The topic began, as reported by Politico, with the case of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old shot and killed in an early-morning raid on her apartment, and George Floyd, a 46-year-old who died after police officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department placed his knee on the back of his neck for over eight minutes.
According to USA TODAY’s debate transcript, Senator Harris said that she has “talked with Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and her family,” stating that Taylor deserves justice and calling for the end of private prisons and cash bail, as well as decriminalizing marijuana.
“Well our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American lives, and the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system, a grand jury that reviews the evidence,” Pence said, further talking about Trump’s accomplishments and attacking Joe Biden’s lengthy record on race relations and prisons.
During the debate, as reported by the Associated Press, the most talked-about moment was when a fly landed on Pence’s head for a few minutes, capturing the attention of viewers and spawning memes throughout social media platforms.
The second and final presidential debate will be hosted on Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, as reported by The New York Times. It will be moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker and will include topics related to Covid-19, race and climate change, among other issues.