The Dodgy Debate
 Oct 8, 2020 by Douglas Johnson

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Yesterday marked the first and only vice-presidential debate of this election. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris faced Vice President Mike Pence, through two plexiglas glasses, which the Republican side first refused to have implemented before agreeing.

Hosted by USA Today journalist Susan Page, it was with great pleasure to see that both characters were not interrupting or insulting each other, in stark contrast with last week's presidential debate, when President Trump kept interrupting Biden and when Biden kept insulting the President, referring to him as a clown or even telling him to "shut up".

The debate obviously started with the coronavirus, which was, once again, the primary topic of the debate. In many ways, the election would have been totally different without the Chinese-originated virus.
Instead of running on a booming economy and a skyrocketing stock market, Trump’s administration is forced to play defense. And unfortunately, Pence refused to answer one of the first questions, when Page asked him why there are many more cases and deaths in the United States, percentage-wise, than in other countries.
This was only one of many other questions that got not answer, and from both sides. Time was sometimes used to talk about different topics. And while the debate was clearly more interesting than the first one, it still lacked the level of maturity and professional you'd expect for pretending to deserve such high office.

Kamala Harris showed a tough attitude, similar to what she had shown in the Democratic primary, even asking her opponent multiple times: "Let me speak!", but at the same time, she clearly did not go fully at it. There are two political reasons why she would not go more on the attack. First, she is a woman, and there is a side of the voters that would definitely do not appreciate seeing a woman being quite aggressive in a debate, and perhaps even more from an African American woman.
Second, Joe Biden is flying over Trump in the polls, with an average margin of close to 10 points. If the polls are correct, the Biden/Harris ticket should win in a landslide, even in some states that used to go Republican in pretty much each election. But we all know the polls have their limits and that if polls were right, Hillary Clinton would be probably seeking re-election right now. Still, when you lead with such margin, you do not have to attack too much and risk making a clear mistake that could then let the other side grasp on it.

Oddly enough, Pence did not use a very simple and obvious card, meaning using some of the quotes from Harris against Biden during the Democratic primary. There was plenty of material that would have been beyond terrible for her. This could have been so easy to use, it's flabbergasting to witness the absence of such remarks in the debate.

Most debates end up the same, they comfort each voter in his or her choice. Debates rarely change the outcome of the election, but they clearly make an impression and are the center of the discussion during the final month of the campaign. Time will tell if the debates had any impact, if any.

Watch the full debate here:

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