A few weeks before the US elections, Kamala Harris and Mike Pence exchanged each other on TV. The Democrat shot particularly hard at US President Trump.

Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris has criticized President Donald Trump’s administration with the corona pandemic in the strongest possible terms. “This is the greatest failure of any US government in the history of our country,” Harris said on Wednesday evening (local time) during a TV duel with Vice President Mike Pence. In particular, she referred to the number of more than 210,000 corona deaths in the US – the highest number in the world – and accused the government of “incompetence”.

Pence defended the government’s actions. Trump put the health of US citizens first “from day one.” If the government had not taken the measures, many more people would have died. In return, Pence accused Harris of “ undermining ” citizens’ confidence in a future corona vaccine.

Trump also got involved in the debate, criticizing Harris on Twitter. “She’s a slip-up machine,” the US president wrote during the on-going TV game. Trump was full of praise in his tweet about his vice president. “Mike Pence is doing great!” Trump wrote.

Corona pandemic as a major topic in the election campaign

The TV debate between Harris and Pence less than four weeks before the US presidential election was dominated by the corona pandemic. After Trump’s corona infection, the second candidates sat on the podium in Salt Lake City, Utah, separated by plexiglass. There was also a safety distance of more than three and a half meters between them. The performance was also much more orderly than the game between Trump and challenger Joe Biden, which had sunk in chaos a week earlier. The main trigger for this was that Trump interrupted Biden repeatedly.

The vice-candidates barely interrupted – also because Harris blocked two of Pence’s attempts with a resolute “Mr. Vice President, now I’m talking about”. In return, Pence repeatedly exceeded his allotted time. He didn’t let the host – USA Today journalist Susan Page – stop him and kept talking.

Pence also found himself repeatedly simply ignoring the questions and posting the messages he wanted to answer instead. For example, when asked about the position on abortions, he first addressed how the Trump administration had killed Iran’s top general Ghassem Soleimani in a missile strike.

The question of a peaceful transfer of power remains open

Both candidates avoided the question of what their agreements with the respective presidential candidates are like for a transfer of power. It’s an important point: Trump is 74 years old and has Covid-19, Biden is 77. Either would be the oldest president in US history when he took office in January 2021. Moderator page didn’t ask.

Harris also failed to answer Pence’s question of whether Biden and the Democrats would expand the Supreme Court if they won the election and regain a majority in the Senate. Republicans are trying to get Amy Coney Barrett, a lawyer, to go to the US Supreme Court. It would bolster a conservative majority in the court. Pence did not say whether he and Trump would accept an election defeat. “I think we will win these elections,” said the vice president. Trump is well behind Biden in national polls.

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Harris stressed that as president, Biden would reverse Trump’s tax reform. Pence then said it would mean tax increases for voters. Harris confirmed, “Joe Biden will not tax anyone who earns less than $ 400,000 a year.” Harris also said that a Biden government would “proudly” rejoin the Paris Agreement.

Pence dodges questions about climate change

Meanwhile, Pence avoided the direct question of whether he viewed climate change as an existential threat. “The climate is changing, we will follow science,” he said. Harris described climate change as “an existential threat to us as humans”.

Pence repeatedly attacked Joe Biden’s political past as Barack Obama’s vice president and US Senator. Among other things, he accused him of the fact that jobs had been lost to China and that Obama’s health care reforms had failed.

Vice runners are considered candidates for the next US election

The only TV duel between Pence and Harris was expected with special excitement: also due to the advanced age of the two presidential candidates, special attention will be paid this year to the number two. Pence of Harris would take over the office of the future president if he became incapacitated for work due to a serious illness. Both 61-year-old Pence and 55-year-old Harris will also be traded as potential presidential candidates in the next election in 2024.

Pence has been a staunch deputy to Trump since taking office in early 2017. Acting largely in the shadow of the president, the former Indiana state governor is known for being sober and dry. He has been head of the White House’s Corona crisis team since the spring. As an evangelical Christian, he must secure the support of the religious right, an important and well-organized group of voters, for the president in the November 3 elections.

Pence’s rival Harris first ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, but then dropped out of the race. In August, Biden made the senator with Jamaican-Indian roots the second candidate. If she won the November election, the former California Attorney General would be the first woman and the first black woman to take up the vice presidency.

Polls currently see Biden clearly ahead of Trump. The race could be very close in some very important states.

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