The nerds will tell you that “the Vice Presidential debates are so America can see who will be the leader if another presidential crisis occurs”. The political savvy will tell you that Vice Presidential debates are just for the network ratings and for parties to broaden their voter bases. If you have a firebrand as your nominee, then most candidates will choose a moderate as their running mate. If you have a centrist heading the Presidential ticket, then most campaigns will choose a hardline partisan to fire up key groups in their voting base. The politically savvy usually make the extremely fair point that Vice Presidential debates are more for PR purposes than practical ones.
Listening to pundits- there is continuous disagreement about what Vice Presidential debates are for… but tonight was the first time in debate history where the nerds may be resoundingly right. A particularly moribund backdrop set tonight’s debate.
ONLY DEBATE IN HISTORY UNDER THE SHADOW OF DEATH
Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris faced off tonight against a unique background. They are the only Vice Presidential candidates to face off while both of their running mate’s health is in serious question.
- Speculation has long swirled about Vice President Biden’s mental acuity. Many point to his myriad fumbles and gaffs as a sign that Biden may be in the early onset of dementia.
- Speculation has also suddenly spiked around President Trump’s health, spurred on by his recent Corona-Virus diagnosis. President Trump- as Commander-in-Chief- is certainly receiving the best healthcare available to any citizen but one can’t help but notice that the President is overweight- part of one of the demographics most likely to have Corona-Virus fatalities.
Both the Presidential contenders are septuagenarians. As people well into their 70s, any medical affliction be it Dementia, Corona-Virus or even something as acute as a fall could pose an enormous threat to their health and the security of the country.
After a raucous debate last week, both candidates went out of their way to appear polite to each other. The candidates had a repressed disdain for each other that was palpable- moment after moment was full of fake smiles, shallow laughs and half-hearted compliments.
In many ways, the candidates seemed similar in strategy. The candidates both sought to keep the outright combat to a minimum. Aside from high tension dust-ups, it appeared that these candidates focused mostly on capitalising on each other’s records to speak to key demographic groups.
Surprisingly, both candidates avoided discussing the health of their candidates.
- Kamala shook her head “no” when Pence mentioned that the Biden administration would implement the Green New Deal. It is unclear why she shook her head- but if she was indicating that the Biden administration would NOT implement the Green New Deal- this would be a peculiar reversal for Senator Harris, one of the Green New Deal’s co-authors.
- Recent campaign messaging seems to be signalling that should Biden-Harris take office, Kamala Harris will play a significant role as a co-president. Pence never raised this issue in his attacks, and Harris never mentioned this in her answers. Did they both avoid it because it is false or because it is true?
- Pence seemed to detect that there wasn’t a stomach for a debate full interruptions after last week’s Presidential showdown. He used his interruptions incredibly strategically- saving his interventions for key moments like a quarrel with Kamala about the Biden Tax Plan.
- Senator Harris made no direct appeals to the staunchly liberal or progressive bases of the Democrat Party. Many saw this as a move to wrangle suburban white women who have largely drifted away from the Republican Party in recent years and are believed to be ripe for a political re-alignment
Pence Best Moments
- Pointed at oddly Trumpian changes the Biden Campaign has made to make the economic planks of its platform, Pence invoked the word “plagiarism”. This was a clear reference to a moment in the 1980s when Biden was accused of having plagiarized an entire speech from a British Labour leader.
- Pence hit Kamala for her criticism of the Corona-Virus vaccine efforts. He used the line, “Quit playing politics with people’s lives.”
- Pence explained that if the Swine flu had been as contagious as Corona-Virus, the Obama-Biden administration’s handling would have led to two million deaths.
Kamala’s Best Moments
- Kamala had a touching moment that was sure to touch some hearts when she discussed the image of her late mother that was sure to endear many in the audience.
- Against a very tough challenge from Vice President Pence about whether Senator Harris would pursue the recent Democrat pledge to pack the Supreme Court, Senator Harris made a skillful roll to avoid the questioning. Harris redirected and defended to a well-crafted answer about Presidential appointments to the Court.
Pence’s Worst Moment
- Vice President Pence had a fly on his head for about 4 minutes during the debate. This wasn’t his fault but was horribly distracting.
- Pence was incredibly sharp with his attack on Kamala Harris’s record as DA, but his attacked lacked the vim that Tulsi Gabbard’s attack had during the primaries.
Kamala’s Best Moments
- Senator may have overcompensated by trying to seem polite during this debate. On occasion, some viewers may have perceived her expressions and gesticulations as “mean-girl-ish.”
- Kamala’s voice quaked in the first question of the night, and she repeated herself on an unnecessary explanation of how corona virus’s spread is airborne.
- Pence was cut off by the moderator when he said he wanted to return to an earlier topic. Pence looked at her said ‘“Thank You” and then completely ignored her.
- Kamala exclaimed “Great Segway!” when the moderator mentioned that she wanted to change topics. However, Kamala’s exclamation was BEFORE the Moderator actually said what they were segueing to.