8 Oct 2020

Harris, Pence face off in crucial US vice presidential debate

From Checkpoint, 5:07 pm on 8 October 2020

Billed as potentially the most important vice presidential debate in US history - it could equally have been mistaken for the start of 2024 campaign to be commander-in-chief.

Democratic candidate Senator Kamala Harris and current Vice President Mike Pence faced off at a Covid-19 safe distance, on stage at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Seated and separated by perspex screens, they ran the gauntlet of Covid-19, the economy, supreme court, climate change and race relations.

With both candidates ducking hot button questions, interrupting each other and refusing to heed time calls from the moderator.

And at one point the fly in the ointment was actually a fly, which made itself at home on Mike Pence's snowy white hair.

Each of the potential vice presidents are on a ticket with a senior candidate - Donald Trump and Joe Biden aged 74 and 77 respectively - meaning their understudies could become the main actor.

Kamala Harris slammed the Trump administration's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed 209,000 Americans.

But Vice President Mike Pence bit back, criticising the Biden team's plan as little more than plagiarism.

Pence danced around a question about whether Trump's actions before and after getting Covid-19 could be damaging to the way American's respond.

But side-stepping questions was a theme of the night. With 74-year-old President Trump currently contagious with Covid-19 and former Vice President Biden set to turn 78 just weeks after the election, both potential VPs were asked what happens if their president becomes unfit to serve.

Both dodged it - with Pence instead doubling back to Kamala Harris' previous answer about a coronavirus vaccine.

While the earlier presidential debate was filled with interruptions and insults, Pence and Harris handled things slightly differently.

And while Chris Wallace struggled to control Trump and Biden during the Presidential debate, moderator Susan Page tried to put her foot down.