Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris dodged and weaved their way through a largely cordial debate on Wednesday night in Utah that was low on fireworks and heavy on policy.
Debate moderator Susan Page was able to keep the candidates in check. While there were a few interruptions, there was nothing close to the verbal hectoring that defined President Trump outing against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
But Page wasn’t always able to get straight answers out of the elusive vice presidential candidates, who filibustered and changed topics rather than responding to the questions that were given to them.
Pence wouldn’t say whether it was irresponsible for the White House to have held a Rose Garden ceremony that appears to have been a super-spreader event that may have sickened the president and many others with the coronavirus. Harris wouldn’t say whether the Biden administration would impose onerous new lockdowns or a federal mask mandate to battle the coronavirus.
Neither candidate would answer when asked if they’d had discussions about safeguards and procedures if Trump, 74, or Biden, 77, were to become incapacitated in the White House.
Harris declined to account for her past support for the Green New Deal. Pence wouldn’t say if climate change represents an existential threat.
And Pence dodged on how far he’d like to go in rolling back abortion rights, while Harris declined to answer when asked if she supports lifting all restrictions on abortions.
Isn’t this information the voters deserve?, an exasperated Page asked at one point.
The candidates largely avoided the personal attacks that colored the first presidential debate and instead pivoted away from difficult questions to talk about their policy priorities.
Pence argued that a Biden administration would be a disaster for the economy, drawing attention to Biden’s pledge to eliminate the Trump tax cuts on his first day in office.
You heard her, Pence declared. On day one Joe Biden will raise your taxes.
Harris hammered the Trump administration over its handling of the coronavirus, accusing the president of hiding important information from the public early on.
The administration has forfeited their right to reelection because of it, Harris said.