Vice-presidential debate: refreshing change of pace after tumultuous presidential debate


Oct. 8, 2020 — Twelve feet apart and separated by two walls of plexiglass, Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence showed the world what a debate should look like. Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate, moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page, took place with a socially distanced audience at the University of Utah.

Page asked the candidates about relevant topics like the coronavirus, healthcare and climate change, as well as the role a vice president should play. Both candidates refrained from name-calling and snide remarks — something we saw quite a bit of last Tuesday.

Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said on Monday that she was hoping to see a higher level of professionalism between the two vice presidential candidates.

“My heart just sank after watching the presidential debate last week,” Podlodowski said. “I was so angry at Trump for turning something that is an opportunity for voters to hear policy positions into a farce.”

Rudy Alamillo, a political science professor at Western Washington University, said that Wednesday’s debate was tame compared to the “spectacle” that was the presidential debate. Alamillo said that he does not currently support one candidate over the other, but has found it difficult to remain completely impartial.

“As a political scientist, I really value the science part of that,” Alamillo said. “I think that means that I have to be impartial, but it’s difficult to be impartial when you see so much negativity and so much of a lack of regard for science on the Republican side.”

Alamillo said Harris did a good job of recognizing how much the American people have sacrificed due to the coronavirus pandemic and ultimately placing the blame on Pence, the head of the Trump administration’s coronavirus taskforce.

“Sen. Harris did a really great job of bringing everything back to a personal level and really tying her statements to the things that all of us are seeing in our day-to-day lives,” Alamillo said.

On the other hand, Alamillo noticed that, like Trump, Vice President Pence did a great job of creating voter uncertainty.

One of the things that both the President and the vice president have tried to do, Alamillo said, is associate Biden and Harris with the Green New Deal.

“Harris played the game a little bit smarter when she didn’t come out and say that she was against the Green New Deal, but you had Biden come out last week and actually say that he was against it,” Alamillo said. “And the Green New Deal was a favored policy of people further to the left of the spectrum.”

Alamillo said that if Pence can create a situation where you have the democratic candidates saying they’re against the Green New Deal, they have the possibility to lose some voters, particularly ones who care about the environment.

Kathy Kershner, chair of the Whatcom Republican Party, said on Wednesday night that she was proud of the vice president for speaking about the accomplishments the Trump administration has made over the last three and a half years.

“I was once again reminded of some of the great things that have happened as far as foreign policy goes, as far as our economy goes, and the jobs that have come back to America…” Kershner said.

While both candidates disagreed on many, if not all of the issues discussed on Wednesday night, they still managed to keep things civil and give the American people a legitimate debate.