Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) discussed a range of health issues in a civilian debate during Wednesday night’s Vice Presidential Debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The two sat 12 feet apart and behind plexiglass partitions, a reminder of the ongoing pandemic. But viewers didn’t need that reminder when Ms. Harris started the debate by criticizing the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis.
The former California attorney general found that 7.5 million people have already been infected with the novel coronavirus. The death toll is still 211,000. She said Mr. Trump “forfeited his right to re-election”.
“The American people have seen the greatest failure of presidential administration in our country’s history,” said Ms. Harris.
Mr Pence, who heads the White House’s COVID-19 task force, pushed back and defended the government’s handling of the pandemic. He said Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan was very similar to that of the Trump administration. On its website, PolitiFact said that the Biden plan also suggests many other priorities that the Trump administration has not pursued. The Biden campaign also follows the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding mask wear and social distancing.
Mr. Pence also defended the White House’s decision to hold a rose garden ceremony for Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett on September 26. Several people who attended this outdoor event and related indoor events that day have since tested positive for COVID-19.
“President Trump and I trust the American people to make decisions that are in the best interests of their health,” said Pence. “We are about freedom and we respect the freedom of the American people.”
On vaccines, Mr. Pence called “incomprehensible” the fact that Ms. Harris continued to “undermine public confidence in a vaccine introduced during the Trump administration.” Ms. Harris replied that if doctors and scientists gave the green light, she would be “the first in line to take it absolutely”. But if “Donald Trump tells us to take it, I won’t take it.”
Later that night, Ms. Harris had one of her strongest moments while defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Trump administration supports a lawsuit against the ACA that would remove the protection of people with pre-existing conditions. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments shortly after the November 3rd election.
“If you have a pre-existing disease, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they are for you,” she said. “If you love someone with a pre-existing illness, they come for you. If you are under 26 and your parents are insured, they are here for you. “
When asked how the Trump administration would protect people with pre-existing conditions if the Supreme Court knocks down the ACA, Mr. Pence avoided answering.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial calling for the current administration to be voted out. President Trump is never mentioned by name in the editorial titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum”. It is said that the American leadership has “taken a crisis and turned it into tragedy” and that “the extent of that failure is astonishing”.
The editorial was signed by all 34 publishers and is the first time in its 208-year history that the journal has participated in presidential elections. The editorial does not openly support Joe Biden.