In a rare occurrence for American politics, all eyes were on the vice presidential debate on Oct. 7.

The University of Utah displays signs for the VP Debate on Oct. 7.
The University of Utah displays signs for the VP Debate on Oct. 7. Photo credit: University of Utah

Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence took the stage at the University of Utah. Fifty-seven million people tuned in to watch the two candidates discuss COVID-19, healthcare, racial inequality and the upcoming election.

The University of Utah displays signs for the VP Debate on Oct. 7.
The University of Utah displays signs for the VP Debate on Oct. 7. Photo credit: University of Utah

The stakes were higher than a typical vice presidential debate.

Since the presidential debate on Sept. 30, more than a dozen members of Trump’s inner circle tested positive for the coronavirus, including Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie and Mike Lee.

Student Volunteers drive media around the University of Utah Campus for coverage on the Oct. 7 VP Debate.
Student Volunteers drive media around the University of Utah Campus for coverage on the Oct. 7 VP Debate. Photo credit: University of Utah

Trump spent days in Walter Reed Medical Center, and Trump and his medical team have downplayed or altogether avoided questions about his health for the past week.

Trump’s positive test put a spotlight on the failure of our administration to control this pandemic. As the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, Pence’s failures were front and center.

The University of Utah displays signs for the VP Debate on Oct. 7.
The University of Utah displays signs for the VP Debate on Oct. 7. Photo credit: University of Utah

Harris focused on the administration’s inability to enforce mask mandates and social distancing.

“The American people have had to sacrifice far too much because of the incompetence of this administration,” Harris said.

The past week has illuminated the hypocrisy from Republican politicians regarding COVID-19. On Oct. 12, Mike Lee attended the Supreme Court hearing for nominee Amy Coney Barrett. It had only been 10 days since he’d tested positive. He did not wear a mask.

Pence and Harris went back and forth about the Supreme Court hearing regarding Coney’s nomination. Pence accused Harris and Biden of preparing to stack the courts, and Harris dodged the question.

“Stop playing politics with people’s lives,” Pence said.

That’s an ironic choice of words from an administration that has ignored most guidelines from the World Health Organization, choosing to instead blame the pandemic on the Radical Left.

Trump has labeled it a Democratic hoax, a Chinese hoax and the China Virus. While Trump and his cohorts ignored reality, 200,000 Americans died. Now Pence accuses Kamala of playing politics with people’s lives?

Pence technically attended the debate, but he drafted his own questions.

When asked if voters had the right to the president’s health records, Pence thanked the American people for their prayers after Trump’s diagnosis.

When asked if he and Trump had discussed the plan should Trump become too sick to serve, Pence said Harris was undermining a vaccine.

When confronted with Trump only paying $750 in taxes over the last 15 years, Pence claimed Trump paid more than $10 million.

When asked about our country’s relationship with China, Pence said Obama’s presidency cost us manufacturing jobs.

The affair was altogether dramatically more civil than the presidential debate on Sept. 30. Pence interrupted Harris several times, but by the end of the debate, the two had nearly equal speaking time.

FACT CHECK:

— Pence said that 200,000 manufacturing jobs were lost during Biden’s VP tenure and the recession. This is correct. 203,000 jobs were lost.
— Harris claimed that the Trump administration got rid of Obama’s Pandemic Response Team. This is correct. The entire team was fired in 2018.
— Harris said Pew Research reported that world leaders had more confidence in the Communist Party leader Xi Jinping than in Trump. This is correct. 19 percent had confidence in Jinping and 16 percent had confidence in Trump.
— Pence claimed Trump paid over ten million dollars in taxes. This is incorrect. His tax records prove he only paid $750 from 2000-2016.
— Pence claimed Biden would ban all fracking. This is incorrect. Biden would only ban fracking on federal lands and eliminate new fracking permits.
— Pence claimed universal mail-in ballots would cause massive voter fraud. This is incorrect. In the 2016 election, 25 percent of voters voted by mail, and only .00004 percent of ballots were found to be fraudulent.
— Harris claimed that Trump said John McCain did not deserve to be called a hero. This is correct. In 2015, Trump said, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
— Harris said that four million people have voted so far in the 2020 election. This is correct, as reported by Reuters and others.
— Pence claimed that there was no bias in police’s treatment of minorities. This is incorrect. Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police.
— Harris claimed that Trump did not condemn white supremacy during his presidential debate. This is correct. Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” The Proud Boys are a far-right, neo-fascist group that promotes political violence.
— Pence claimed that when Harris was DA, black men were 19 times more likely to be prosecuted for petty crimes. This is correct, as far as we can tell. Black and Latino populations were incarcerated at a much higher rate than white men while she was DA.

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