BY CORINNA COOK
Oct. 8, 2020 — The sole vice presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, was much more civil than the earlier presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
The divide between Democrats and Republicans remains wide, but despite that there were still some agreements across the board. Two major talking point erupted from this debate: the fly and Pence’s habit of interrupting both the moderator and Harris.
“Mike Pence wouldn’t let Kamala Harris answer the questions,” said Mark Russell, who only watched the first 25 minutes of the debate. “That’s actually why I turned it off.”
Russell, from Seattle, is retired and has a degree in political science. He said the interruptions are what stuck out to him most, but despite the interruptions, he said Harris did well for herself in the debate.
“She had some certain things she needed to do in the debate from a political point of view and I thought she did those fine,” he said. “She was to the point, she addressed issues, she was engaging, which was another big contrast with Mike Pence.”
Pence’s penchant for interruptions is one thing both parties can agree on. According to a count from Business Insider, Pence interrupted Harris 10 times. She interrupted him half as much.
“I believe he’s a person who likes to give the whole picture; he doesn’t want to be cut off,” said Beverly Kirk, a volunteer for the Whatcom Republicans. She said that Pence could have used his time more effectively.
Even as Kirk recognized that Pence may have interrupted Harris a few too many times, she does not think Harris handled herself well. “She tried to be in control; I don’t think that was beneficial,” Kirk said. “I was not impressed.”
Kirk said that while Harris was good at adhering to the time constraints, she did not treat Pence with the respect he deserves. “Respect is a bottom-line character quality that was not shown by her,” Kirk said.
Referring to Harris’ hesitance to answer the moderator’s question on court packing, Kirk said that Harris did well in avoiding answering certain questions.
New voters can easily feel overwhelmed by information and heated debates. The vice presidential debate can often be the first time for voters to hear what the candidates have to say about their own platforms.
“This was my first opportunity to hear more about the policies that Harris and Biden have,” said Faith Edwards, a history major at Western Washington University.
This is Edwards’ first time voting in a presidential election, and she has been adamant about learning as much as she can to make educated decisions before voting. But when it comes to the presidency, she is backing Biden without hesitation.
“[Harris] managed to get her points across without being rude,” Edwards said. “She managed to stand up for herself without coming across as overtly aggressive or overtly harsh or mean, which is something really hard to do when you’re a black woman.”
Edwards was concerned when Pence did not directly answer the question about a peaceful transition of power, but instead insisted that Trump would win so it would not be an issue. This reflects Trump’s previous refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
“I don’t agree with Pence, and I think he’s lying 100% of the time,” Edwards said. “But unlike Trump, he had some amount of decorum.”