Pence Walks Away from the Debate a Clear Winner

It's not hard to see why Kamala Harris was polling at close to zero percent before she dropped out of the presidential race last December.  She is deeply dishonest, lacks sincerity, and makes Hillary Clinton seem likeable.  She refused to answer some of the most basic questions about her party's platform, including whether Biden would support more COVID shutdowns, or whether or not she favors the Green New Deal.  She would not say if she would support restrictions on abortions or packing the court.

No amount of eye rolling, smirking, or duplicity from Harris could prevent Vice President Mike Pence from calmly swatting away all of her falsehoods and pointing to the president’s record of success on the virus, the economy, and on foreign affairs.  Even the now infamous fly that found its way onto the vice president’s head was unable to faze him.

Harris began the Vice Presidential Debate by holding the Trump Administration personally responsible for all 210,000 deaths from COVID, as well as for the permanent closing of businesses and for the economic contraction that has led to a 7.9 percent unemployment rate.  “The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said in her opening remarks.

After Pence strongly defended President Trump’s response to the virus, including his crucial decision to suspend travel from China in January, which bought the country time to develop vaccines and therapeutics, deliver billions of medical supplies, and ramp up testing (more than 115 million tests to date), the vice president landed one of his best lines of the night. “When you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I, and our task force have been doing every step of the way.  Quite frankly, when I look at their plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new PPE, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism, which is something that Joe Biden knows a little bit about,” Pence said, alluding to the time that the former vice president copied a speech virtually word for word from Neil Kinnock, the former British leader of the Labour Party.

When Harris continued to cast doubt on the legitimacy of a potential vaccine that could be developed while Trump is still in office, Pence shot down her callous statement. “The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if the vaccine emerges during the Trump Administration, I think is unconscionable. Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people's lives.  The reality is that we will have a vaccine, we believe before the end of this year, and it will have the capacity to save countless American lives, and your continuous undermining of confidence in a vaccine is just unacceptable.”

When the debate shifted to the economy, Harris brought out the same Democratic talking points that have been used to attack every Republican president's tax plan since Ronald Reagan.  After falsely saying that the Trump tax cuts only benefit large corporations and the wealthy, Pence calmly batted away those claims by reminding Harris that since the Trump tax cuts were implemented, the average American family of four has received $2,000 in tax savings, and increased their earnings by $4,000.

The vice president also ripped into the deleterious effects that Biden’s tax hikes will have on our economy. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want to raise taxes, they want to bury our economy under a $2 trillion Green New Deal, which you were one of the original sponsors of in the United States Senate.  They want to abolish fossil fuels and ban fracking, which would cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs all across the heartland.”  Fact check, true.

When Harris was not grinning sheepishly, she was being disingenuous about Biden’s plan to raise taxes, and incorrectly stated that he would not ban fracking, even though they have both been on record saying they would do just that.  Harris also stated that Trump had “reigned over a recession that is being compared to the Great Depression.”

It remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely that blaming the loss of jobs on the president during a global pandemic will be an effective strategy, considering that the shutdowns are largely the work of liberal governors in Democrat-run states.  Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has essentially shut down his state since March, leading to an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent.  Meanwhile Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has largely pushed to reopen his state, presides over an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent.

After Harris accused Trump of removing health insurance from people with preexisting conditions, Pence landed another effective line.  “I hope we have a chance to talk about healthcare because Obamacare was a disaster, the American people remember it well.  President Trump and I have a plan to improve healthcare and protect pre-existing conditions for every American.  Senator Harris, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

When Harris said that Trump had lost the trade war with China, a perplexed Pence responded, “lost the trade war with China? Joe Biden never fought it.  Joe Biden’s been a cheerleader for communist China over the last several decades.” He also pointed out that Harris voted against the USMCA deal that replaced NAFTA, and that when Biden was vice president, the U.S. lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs overseas.  Meanwhile, 500,000 new manufacturing jobs have been created under President Trump.  

Pence also hit Harris on Biden’s disastrous foreign-policy decisions, including his opposition to the raid on Osama Bin Laden and the strike on Qasem Soleimani, and his support for the Iran Nuclear Deal that sent $1.8 billion to the leading state sponsor of terrorism.

When Harris was asked whether or not she was going to pack the court, she refused to answer the question.  “We’re literally in an election.  Over four million people have voted, people are in the process of voting right now, and so Joe has been very clear, as the American people are.  Let the American people fill that seat in the White House, and then we’ll fill that seat on the United States Supreme Court,” she said.

That non-answer led to this response from the vice president, “Your party is actually openly advocating adding seats to the Supreme Court, which has had nine seats for 150 years... Now you’ve refused to answer the question.  Joe Biden has refused to answer the question.  So I think the American people would really like to know if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States, are you and Joe Biden, if somehow you win this election, going to pack the Supreme Court to get your way?  Harris once again refused to answer the question.

The contrast between Pence and Harris in policy, in substance, and in demeanor could not have been more glaring.  When the two candidates were asked a final question about the polarization that exists in our country, Kamala took it as an opportunity to slam Trump and sell the Biden brand, while Pence answered the question directly with a bipartisan and philosophical take of what it means to be an American.

“I looked at the relationship between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late justice who we just lost from the Supreme Court, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. They were on polar opposites, on the Supreme Court of the United States -- one very liberal, one very conservative. But what's been learned since her passing was the two of them and their families were the very closest of friends. And here in America, we can disagree we can debate vigorously as Senator Harris and I have on the stage tonight. But when the debate is over, we come together as Americans.” Pence walked away from the debate as the clear winner.

Image: Gage Skidmore

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