Mike Pence repeatedly interrupts Kamala Harris in vice presidential debate

Candidates faced off last night in only debate of the 2020 campaign

Matt Mathers
Thursday 08 October 2020 11:03
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Pence repeatedly speaks over Harris

"Mr vice president, I'm speaking".

That was the response from senator Kamala Harris last night to repeated interruptions from Mike Pence, during the VP debate.

Ms Harris and Mr Pence faced off in Salt Lake City last night for the first and only vice presidential debate of the 2020 race for the White House.

Following last week's shambolic affair between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, debate moderator Susan Page called for a "civil discussion" in the mostly empty auditorium at the University of Utah.

Separated by a plexiglass barrier, the two candidates went toe-to-toe on everything from the coronavirus pandemic and social unrest to the race to confirm a supreme court justice before November's election.

And while Ms Page's demands may have been met in that Wednesday's proceedings were far more cordial than the chaotic scenes witnessed in Ohio last week, the vice president talked over Ms Harris on several occasions.

According to a CBS News analysis, Mr Pence made twice as many interruptions as his rival (10-5). Both candidates were given two minutes to answer each question, but the analysis shows the VP spoke for 38 minutes compared with Harris's 35 minutes.

Here's a list of some of those interruptions:

Coronavirus pandemic

One of Pence's first interruptions came when the pair dicussed coronavirus, which has infected several of the president's closest aides.

Ms Harris, the first black woman to participate in a vice presidential debate, accused the White House of the “greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country” over its handling of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 212,000 US lives.

Ms Harris, 55, said both the president and Mr Pence — who is head of the White House's coronavirus task force — had known about the severity of the pandemic as early as 28 January, but refused to be honest with the American people.

Mr Pence, 61, attempted to interrupt his rival but she responded with "Mr vice president, I'm speaking" — a line that has come to define Wednesday's debate.

Taxes

"This is supposed to be a debate based on fact and truth. And the truth and the fact is that Joe Biden has been very clear that he will not raise taxes on anybody who makes less than $400,000 a year".

That was the rebuttal from Ms Harris after her rival claimed that Mr Biden plans to raise taxes if he is elected to office — an attack line used repeatedly by the president last week.

Cutting into Ms Harris's allotted two minutes, the vice president countered that Mr Biden would "repeal the Trump tax cuts" — cuts that critics say benefit only the richest Americans.

But before the vice president got to finishing his sentence, Ms Harris told him: "Mr vice president, I'm speaking".

Healthcare

Senator Harris and VP Pence clash at Wednesday’s debate

Democrats have accused the Trump administration of attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare', which provides millions of Americans with affordable health insurance.

And with coronavirus cases surging in the US heading into flu season, healthcare has become an increasingly important issue for many people heading to the polls.

Discussing the issue on Wednesday night, Mr Pence spoke over his rival, who was forced to plead with the moderator to let her finish: "He interrupted me, and I'd like to just finish, please," Ms Harris said after the moderator called time on her answer.

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