Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris, the 2020 Democrat vice presidential nominee, squared off Wednesday in the much-anticipated vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Coming off the heels of a contentious debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden last week, Wednesday’s debate moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page featured fewer interruptions and more respectful back-and-forth dialogue between the two participants.
While much focus was paid to the coronavirus response and the Supreme Court nomination, the candidates made sure to press each other on issues they wanted to drive home to voters.
In the following pages list five highlights from the 2020 vice presidential debate.
Pence slams Harris, Dems for ‘attacks’ on Christian beliefs of Trump’s nominees
The vice president dodged a question about whether he would like to see Indiana outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court by calling on Senate Democrats to be “fair” in confirmation hearings related to the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
“She is a brilliant woman and will bring a lifetime of experience and a sizable American family to the Supreme Court of the United States. Our hope is in the hearing next week, unlike what Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh received with treatment from you and others, we hope she gets a fair hearing,” he said.
“We particularly hope that we don’t see the kind of attacks on her Christian faith that we saw before,” he added. “The Democrat chairman of the Judiciary Committee before, when Judge Barrett was being confirmed for the Court of Appeals, expressed concern that the ‘dogma of her faith lived loudly in her.’ Dick Durbin of Illinois said it was a concern.”
Pence then addressed Harris’s past questioning of Trump’s judicial nominee Brian C. Buescher. In 2018, the senator asked Buescher about his affiliation with the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus and whether he knew the group “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and “opposed marriage equality.”
“Senator, I know one of our judicial nominees, you actually attacked because they were a member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, just because the Knights of Columbus holds pro-life views and conservative views,” Pence said. “My hope is that when the hearing takes place, that Judge Amy Coney Barrett will be treated respectfully, voted and confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Harris responded by saying that both she and Biden are “people of faith.”
“It is insulting to suggest that we would knock anyone for their faith,” Harris argued. “In fact, Joe, if elected, will be only the second practicing Catholic as president of the United States.”
Pence defends ‘super spreader’ event at Rose Garden attended by evangelical leaders
After over 30 attendees of a Sept. 26 White House Rose Garden event celebrating the nomination of Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court tested positive for coronavirus, Pence was asked specifically by the moderator how he can expect Americans to follow government safety guidelines when the White House has “not been doing so.”
Page chimed that the event seemed to be a “super spreader event for senior administration and congressional officials” and noted that there was “no social distancing” and few masks were worn.
After starting his response off by praising the American people and the administration’s response to the pandemic, the vice president offered a defense of the event.
“The reality is the work of the president goes on,” Pence said. “The vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States has come upon us and the president introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”
“If I may say, that Rose Garden event, there has been a great deal of speculation about it,” he added. “My wife, Karen, and I were there and honored to be there. Many of the people who were at that event actually were tested for coronavirus.”
The vice president went on to note that the event was held outdoors, something that “all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise.”
“The difference here is President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health,” he said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates and not just mandates with the coronavirus, the government take over of health care, the Green New Deal, all government control. We are about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people.”
In addition to Trump and first lady Melania Trump testing positive for coronavirus, other notables who tested positive since the event include evangelist Greg Laurie, the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. Laurie, who also attended a prayer rally in Washington, D.C., that same weekend, and others have warned against politicizing the COVID-19 diagnoses.
The coronavirus has also been tied to other recent political events, such as the presidential debate last week in Cleveland, Ohio, where at least 11 people (media and those involved in helping with debate setup) have tested positive since then.
Harris dodges question about ‘court packing’
Pence dodged a question about how the Trump administration would protect Americans with preexisting conditions by instead directly questioning Harris about whether a Biden administration will try to “pack the Supreme Court” if Barrett is confirmed.
“Your party is actually openly advocating adding seats to the Supreme Court, which has had nine seats of 150 years, if you don’t get your way. This is a classic case that if you can’t win by the rules, you change the rules,” Pence argued.
“You have refused to answer the question. Joe Biden has refused to answer the question. 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 did not answer the vice president’s question. Instead, she offered a “history lesson” at the debate over whether the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be filled during an election year.
“In 1864, … one of the political heroes of the president and also of the vice president, Abraham Lincoln, was up for reelection and it was 27 days before the election,” Harris said. “A seat became open in the U.S. Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln’s party was in charge of not only the White House but the Senate. But Honest Abe said it was not the right thing to do and the American people deserve to make the decision who will be the next president of the United States and that person can select who will serve for a lifetime on the highest court of our land.”
“So, Joe and I are very clear,” she added. “The American people are voting right now. It should be their decision about who will serve on this most important body for a lifetime.”
Pence shot back.
“The American people who are voting right now would like to know if you and Joe Biden want to pack the Supreme Court if you don’t get your way in the nomination,” he said, adding that neither Harris or Biden will give a “straight answer.”
“The straight answer is they are going to pack the Supreme Court,” Pence asserted. “Men and women across this country, if you cherish the Supreme Court and the separation of powers, you need to reject the Biden/Harris ticket come Nov. 3, reelect President Donald Trump …”
The former California attorney general responded with her own questions about the Trump administration’s federal judicial nominations. Trump has boasted about how he will have appointed over 300 judges to the federal courts by the end of his first term.
“Let’s talk about packing the court then,” she said. “I sit on the judicial committee and I have witnessed lifetime appointments to federal courts, district courts, courts of appeal, people who are purely ideological, people who have been reviewed by legal professional organizations and found to be not competent or sub-standard. Do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the court appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is black?”
“This is what they have been doing,” the senator added. “You want to talk about packing a court, let’s have that discussion.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith