Who won the VP debate?

Independent Staff
·3-min read
 (via REUTERS)
(via REUTERS)

Vice president Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, Kamala Harris, clashed in their one and only televised debate ahead of the election on 3 November. Here’s what The Independent’s team made of the event:

John T Bennett, Washington Bureau Chief

When does the debate start? I did not really detect a debate tonight, just a joint appearance featuring Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris. They spouted talking points everyone has heard before. Mr Pence defended Donald Trump and Ms Harris attacked him. Both bent the truth about their ticket's own records and proposals.

My scorecard shows a frantic attempt to land a knockout punch in the early rounds, then a lot of dull body shots. Both delivered some memorable lines. She reminded voters she was a prosecutor. He reminded conservatives he's one of them, and will keep an eye on the Manhattan president, as he had for four years. This was a time-limit draw. We've heard from all four candidates. Let's go vote.

Griffin Connolly, Washington Correspondent

The first presidential debate last week set the bar so low for political discourse that we nearly forgot simply letting the opposing candidate speak isn't something deserving of active applause.

Despite the best efforts of debate moderator Susan Page to keep Vice President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris on topic, both candidates repeatedly avoided her direct questions.

Ms Harris, like Joe Biden, the man with whom she shares the Democratic ticket, did not say whether they would try to add more Supreme Court justices to dilute a conservative majority. Just minutes before, Mr Pence ducked a question about whether Mr Trump chose Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because Ms Barrett has signaled she would vote to overturn the court's landmark abortion rights ruling in Roe v Wade.

Neither Mr Pence nor Ms Harris were willing to dish on Mr Trump or Mr Biden's age, even though either man would be the oldest ever elected to the office.

Both vice presidential candidates were coherent, articulate, and (mostly) respectful of each other's time for answers. They were "presidential", if you will, in that regard. But that's a mere baseline for any robust debate, not a cause for celebration.

Lucy Gray, Audience Editor

Tonight's debate was a world away from the disaster we saw between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The relatively sedate, calm showdown between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence allowed the candidates to get into more policy detail than the presidential debate – but that doesn't mean we got many more answers.

Pence danced around points, responding to questions with answers on totally different subjects. He stuck to the Trump campaign transcript, but without the (albeit utterly chaotic) passion of the president.

Kamala Harris proved herself to be the sharper, stronger debater, hitting home on key Democratic talk points while maintaining her personal message. Her effective pushback on Pence's frequent interruptions showed her strength. There is no question as to who won the VP debate.

Watch: COVID-19 dominates Pence-Harris VP debate