Kamala Harris made history at the US vice-presidential debate when she became the first Black woman and the first woman of South-Asian origin to participate in a general election debate in America. The Democratic candidate squared off against Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence in a debate that was replete with sparks flying as well as some stumbles from both sides.

Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, which infected US President Donald Trump, too, the debate took place with both Harris and Pence seated behind plexiglass-protected tables. It was moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page. The key topics of contention included the pandemic itself, climate change and systemic racism in the US.

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What You Should Know: 

  • Kamala Harris made history at the US vice-presidential debate when she became the first Black and the first woman of South Asian origin to participate in a general election debate in the US.
  • The Democratic candidate squared off against Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence. 
  • The key topics of contention included the pandemic itself, climate change, and systemic racism in the US.

Kamala Harris Attacks Trump Administration Over Mishandling Pandemic

Kamala Harris more or less tore into the Trump administration over its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic in the US, calling it the “greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history” of the country. Currently, the virus has claimed the lives of 210, 000 Americans and debilitated the country’s economy. Harris went on to accuse the present US government of deliberately downplaying the virus for months at the start of the year and said, “You respect the American people when you tell them the truth.”

President Trump’s promise of a coronavirus vaccine being available soon also drew criticism from Harris. “If the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it,” she said. Pence countered most of these accusations by boasting about speedy development of a vaccine and deflecting most of the blame to China, “China is to blame for the coronavirus, and President Trump is not happy about it.”

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Kamala Harris Addresses Climate Change

Notably, Harris was an original sponsor of the Democratic Party’s Green New Deal climate proposal, which seeks to reduce carbon emission and address the problem of climate change. However, Kamala Harris evaded talking about the same proposal at the debate. Instead, she highlighted the “existential threat” posed by climate change. She even said that the Trump administration has long displayed a pattern of not believing in science and dismissing climate change.

Consequently, Pence alleged that Joe Biden, if elected, will go back to the Paris Climate Accord and harm the US economy by focusing on clean energy. Kamala Harris countered these claims by citing forest fires in her home state California, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and floods in the Midwest.

Kamala Harris Accuses Trump Administration Of A “Pattern” Of Racism

The US witnessed widespread Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of various high-profile police killings of Blacks this year. Addressing the same, Harris criticised Trump failing to denounce White supremacy and systemic racism during his tenure as President. “This is who we have as the president of the United States,” Harris said. “America, you deserve better.”

She also condemned the alleged police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd that shook the US this year. Referring to Taylor, Harris said, “Her family deserves justice. Her life was taken unjustifiably and tragically and violently.” She also condemned Trump’s ban on various Muslim-majority nations. Harris went on to elaborate upon the Biden administration’s plans to introduce police reforms like a chokehold and carotid ban, national registries for law-breaking police officers, and elimination of private prisons and cash bail.

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Kamala Harris Holds Ground During Vice-Presidential Debate

The relatively calm vice-presidential debate was starkly different from the chaotic presidential debate that took place eight days ago. However, on the few occasions that Pence did interrupt Harris, she firmly held her ground. At one point, she said, “Mr. Vice-President, I’m speaking. If you don’t mind letting me finish, then we can have a conversation.” Harris’ retort resonated with many women on Twitter:

Kamala Harris also talked about her upbringing and racially diverse background when given the chance. She mentioned how her immigrant mother would be proud to see her on the debate stage: “The fact that I am sitting here will make her proud.” Soon after the debate ended, Harris emerged at the top in CNN’s instant poll as more registered voters felt she had won the debate over Pence.

Watch the debate here:

Picture Credits: The 19th and CNN

Tarini Gandhiok is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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