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Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris clashed over the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, taxes, the Supreme Court and climate change.
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"The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country," Kamala Harris said in opening remarks at the debate. Morry Gash/Pool via REUTERS
In response to Kamala Harris' opening remarks about the coronavirus, Pence said: "I want the American people to know that from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first," he said.
A stray housefly briefly commanded the national stage, generating buzz when it perched on Vice President Pence’s cropped white hair. The insect sat there for several minutes during the matchup. REUTERS/ Mike Blake
Harris faulted the Trump administration for trying to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) healthcare law in the midst of a pandemic and assailing Trump for reportedly paying $750 a year in federal income taxes as president.
Things heated up, but only to a simmer, not a boil. "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking," Harris said when Pence interrupted her during a discussion on taxes. Pence let her finish. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Asked about a potential vaccine, Harris said she would only trust the word of scientists, rather than that of Trump, who has promoted unproven treatments in the past.
Replying to Kamala Harris on a vaccine Pence said, "The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine - if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration - I think is unconscionable ...
The two candidates were separated by 12 feet (3.6 meters) and plexiglass shields, a reminder of the pandemic that has claimed 210,000 American lives and devastated the economy. Morry Gash/Pool via REUTERS
Harris, the first Black woman to serve on a major-party presidential ticket, also attacked Pence on race relations, criticizing Trump for turning down an opportunity to denounce white supremacists at last week's debate with Biden.
Harris warned that the Trump administration's challenge to the ACA would enable insurance companies to deny coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions: "If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they're coming for you.
Mike Pence called the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, a "disaster" and sought to counter Kamala Harris' attacks by turning the focus to the economy and tax policy, saying: "On Day One, Joe Biden's going to raise your taxes." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mike Pence was questioned about the administration's White House event last month announcing Trump's latest Supreme Court nomination, where masks and social distancing were mostly absent.
Debate moderator Susan Page of USA Today speaks during the vice presidential debate. Justin Sullivan/Pool via REUTERS
On global warming, for example, Pence declined to say that it is caused by human activity - the overwhelming scientific consensus - and said Biden's proposed fixes would be too expensive. "Now with regard to climate change, the climate is changing.
"We have seen a pattern with this administration, which is they don't believe in science," Harris said in response to Mike Pence on climate change. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Pence also inaccurately said that Biden would ban hydraulic fracturing. Biden, in fact, has said repeatedly he would not pursue a fracking ban, although he would oppose new permits for drilling on federal land.
Both candidates also danced around what would happen in the event of a disputed election -- a scenario prompted by Trump's repeated statements that he might not accept the outcome if he does not win.
Pence did not promise that Trump would leave office if he lost. Instead, he accused Democrats of denying the legitimacy of Trump's 2016 victory through investigations and impeachment. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Frustrated that Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate may soon cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, some on the left have called on Biden to expand the nine-member court to 11 or 13 seats.
Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris participate in their vice presidential debate held on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Pence closed with a paean to civil discourse. "In America we can disagree. We can debate vigorously as Senator Harris and I have on this stage tonight. But when the debate is over, we come together as Americans," he said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mike Pence gets a kiss from his wife Karen Pence after the conclusion of the vice presidential campaign debate. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Mike Pence, his wife Karen Pence, Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff are seen on the stage at the end of the vice presidential debate. Justin Sullivan/Pool via REUTERS
Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff wave at the conclusion of the vice presidential campaign debate. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Kamala Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff, Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence are seen on the stage after the conclusion of the vice presidential campaign debate. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson