WILLIAM PAUL ELLIS – STAFF WRITER
Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidate for vice president, met in Salt Lake City, Utah Oct. 7 to debate topics ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial injustice.
The 90-minute debate was mod- erated by USA Today journalist Susan Page and was the second of three debates scheduled before the Nov. 3 election.
The debate was notably less com- bative than the previous debate with President Donald Trump and Former Vice President and the Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden, but the debate still featured moments of contention between Harris and Pence.
When asked if she would take a COVID-19 vaccine, Harris took the opportunity to highlight the division in public opinion between National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Dis- eases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and President Trump.
“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
Pence responded by reassuring the audience that the Trump administration was effectively handling the response to the pandemic, and then he scolded Harris for her statement.
“The fact that you continue to un- dermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconsciona- ble,” Pence said. “Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives.”
The debate also discussed the current nomination of Judge Amy Coney-Barrett to the Supreme Court. Controversy has arisen from Trump’s nomination of Coney-Barrett due to the proximity of the election.
When asked by Pence if Biden would pack the court if nominated, Harris responded by reiterating that the nomination should be left to the President-Elect during an election year, drawing on precedent that dates back to the Lincoln presidency.
“Joe and I are very clear: The American people are voting right now. And it should be their decision about who will serve on [the court],” she said.
Harris went on to criticize Trump for the lack of racial diversity among his nominations for federal judges. More than 85% of federal judges nom- inated during the Trump presidency are white, according to the Pew Research Center.
As the election nears, many voters are closely watching the series of de- bates in support of their chosen candi- date, or to make an informed decision.
Trevor Hutson, a senior at Hampton University, believes that the Vice Presidential debate provided essential information for prospective voters.
“The Vice President is a very important position,” Hutson said. “So, I think understanding their positions on policies and other plans is crucial for voters.”
The second presidential debate was scheduled for Oct. 15, but on Oct. 8, President Trump refused to participate in the debate that would be held virtually after Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19.
The final presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.