Vice presidential debate gets underway between Pence and Harris

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris kicked off the first and only vice presidential debate of the 2020 campaign with sharp exchanges over the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 210,000 Americans.

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said at the debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Pence sitting 12 feet away from her, separated by two panes of plexiglass.

Pence defended the administration’s response and said the president’s moves in the early days of the pandemic saved lives.

“When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn’t worked, that’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made,” the vice president said. “The reality is, Dr. Fauci said everything that he told the president in the Oval Office the president told the American people.”

The candidates moved on to discuss a potential vaccine, the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the economy and more. The exchanges have been pointed but largely collegial, especially compared to the chaotic nature of the first presidential debate just eight days ago.

Mike Pence — Kamala Harris — VP debate 2020
Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence participate in the debate at the University of Utah on Wednesday, October 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

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