2020 vice presidential debate

By Melissa Macaya, Fernando Alfonso III, Veronica Rocha, Jessica Estepa and Kyle Blaine, CNN

Updated 11:25 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020
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10:08 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Pence won't call climate crisis an "existential threat"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence did not agree with California Sen. Kamala Harris' assessment that the climate crisis poses an existential threat, saying when he was asked directly about that assessment: "The climate is changing. We will follow the science."

Pence, who has long denied climate science -- including once writing in an op-ed that global warming is a "myth" — immediately pivoted to discussing tax policies, rather than talking in greater depth about the climate. He also criticized Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Harris for linking hurricanes and wildfires to climate change.

"There are no more hurricanes today than there were 100 years ago, but many climate alarmists use hurricanes and fires to try and sell the Green New Deal," Pence said.

Harris, meanwhile, said Biden does not support the progressive Green New Deal but touted his proposed stimulus package, which would pump hundreds of billions of dollars into clean energy jobs.

"Let's talk about who is prepared to lead our country over the course of the next four years on what is an existential threat to us as human beings. Joe is about saying, 'We're going to invest in renewable energy, it's going to be about the creation of millions of jobs, we will achieve zero emissions by 2050, carbon neutral by 2035. Joe has a plan," Harris said, adding that Biden would rejoin the Paris climate accord, which Trump left.

10:06 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Pence says Harris isn't entitled to her own facts

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Justin Sullivan/Pool/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s relationship to the facts on any issue is generally tenuous, at best, and more often completely at odds with them.

And yet, on Wednesday night, Mike Pence challenged Kamala Harris over her accurate description of what would happen if the Affordable Care Act was struck down in court.

“Obamacare was a disaster,” Pence said, speaking in the past tense of a law that still exists.

He continued: “President Trump and I have a plan to improve health care and protect pre-existing conditions for every American.”

They have no such plan, despite Trump’s repeated promises to unveil one.

“Senator Harris,” Pence went on, “you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.”

There he borrowed a line from the late former New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan – without attribution.

Watch the exchange:

9:59 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Fact check: Harris' claim that Trump said coronavirus was a hoax

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to Vice President Mike Pence during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to Vice President Mike Pence during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP

“The President said it was a hoax,” Sen. Kamala Harris claimed in criticizing the administration’s downplaying of coronavirus. 

Harris is likely referring to Trump’s comments during a February rally, which the Biden campaign portrayed as Trump calling coronavirus a “hoax” in a September campaign ad.  

Facts First: This is misleading. Taken in totality, Trump's comments at the Feb. 28 rally indicate that he is deriding Democrats for attacking his performance on coronavirus. A full 56 seconds pass between the two clips the campaign ad edited together.

In this section of his rally speech, Trump began by saying that "the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus," ridiculing Democrats for attacking his administration's performance addressing the virus. The President then compared this attack to the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and calling his impeachment a "hoax."

Trump then said, "They'd been doing it since you got in. It's all turning. They lost. It's all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax."

 Here is what Trump said in full: 

"Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus — you know that right? Coronavirus. They're politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, 'How's President Trump doing?' They go, 'Oh, not good, not good.' They have no clue. They don't have any clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa. They can't even count. No, they can't. They can't count their votes.
One of my people came up to me and said, 'Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn't work out too well. They couldn't do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They'd been doing it since you got in.' It's all turning. They lost. It's all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax."

The next day Trump was asked about this comment and tried to clarify what he said, claiming he was "referring to the action that [the Democrats] take to try and pin this on somebody, because we've done such a good job. The hoax is on them."

That said, Trump's clarification has not stopped some of his supporters from believing the pandemic is, in fact, a hoax. One Trump supporter attending a campaign rally in Michigan on Sept. 10 was asked by CNN's Jim Acosta why he was not wearing a mask. "Because there's no Covid," he said. "It's a fake pandemic created to destroy the United States of America."

For more CNN fact checks, visit our fact check database here

9:59 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Fact check: Pence's claim that Trump suspended all travel from China 

From CNN's Tara Subramaniam 

Vice President Mike Pence responds to a question during the vice presidential debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Vice President Mike Pence responds to a question during the vice presidential debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Patrick Semansky/AP

Vice President Mike Pence claimed President Trump "suspended all travel from China" in response to the coronavirus pandemic.   

Facts FirstThis is false. While Trump did restrict travel from China, his policy was not an actual "ban": It made exemptions for travel by US citizens, permanent residents, many of the family members of both groups and some others.   

The New York Times reported in April that nearly 40,000 people had flown to the US from China since the restrictions went into effect in early February.  

You can read more here about the travel restrictions Trump imposed on China here

For more CNN fact checks, visit our fact check database here.

9:55 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Harris on Pence interruption: "Mr. Vice President, I am speaking"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris speaks during the vice presidential campaign debate with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris speaks during the vice presidential campaign debate with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. Brian Snyder/Reuters

Sen. Kamala Harris hit back at Vice President Mike Pence trying to interrupt one of her answers about coronavirus by bluntly saying: “Mr. Vice President, I am speaking.”

The moment came in the wake of a presidential debate last week where President Trump frequently interrupted Democratic nominee Joe Biden, leading to a chaotic and disorganized debate.

Moderator Susan Page has tried to stop that from happening by repeatedly telling each candidate they had time to answer “uninterrupted.”

But the debate has, at moments, veered into the two sparring for time.

“I have to weigh in,” Pence said, trying to stop Harris.

He was unable to, however, and Harris was able to deliver a message about the way coronavirus has impacted American lives.

When Page tried to cut off Harris again, the senator said, “He interrupted me, and I’d like to just finish, please.”

The tone and tenor of the debate were front of mind for Harris’ team, who are well aware of the optics that could be at play given Harris is the first Black and South Asian woman to appear in a general election debate.

Watch the moment:

10:17 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Here's how Biden's and Harris' positions on health care compare

From CNN's Gregory Krieg and Tami Luhby

Kamala Harris shifted over the course of her Democratic primary campaign from supporting “Medicare for All” to a more moderate plan. 

It called for a 10-year transition period — longer than the four years laid out in Bernie Sanders’ bill — though Americans could have bought into Medicare immediately if they wanted. Her proposal would not have raised middle class taxes, exempting households below $100,000, another distinction with Sanders. Harris would have placed new taxes on Wall Street transactions to help pay for it.

Notably, the Harris plan would have allowed a role for private insurers, a key wedge in the Democratic Party’s internal health care debate.

Biden, on the other hand, has been steady in his opposition to Medicare for All. Even as he gave way some on climate policy during the period after Sanders dropped out of the primary, the former vice president held steady on health care. At one point, Biden said he would veto the bill if it came to his desk, citing the cost.

The Biden plan would beef up Obamacare and add a public option, which his campaign has described as akin to Medicare.

On Covid-19 costs: Harris and Biden are also in lockstep, along with most rest of the party, on Covid-19 treatment costs, saying there shouldn’t be any. The same goes for an eventual vaccine.

9:53 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Harris zeroes in on Trump's taxes and mystery debt

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris makes a point during the vice presidential debate with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris makes a point during the vice presidential debate with Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP

The question: Do voters deserve a clearer picture of the presidential candidates’ health?

Kamala Harris’ answer: If you want to discuss transparency, let’s talk about Trump’s taxes.

If the presidential debate last week was a departure from historical norms, the vice presidential debate tonight is a return to them – neither candidate is engaging with tricky questions and both are turning to pre-planned talking points.

Harris, though, has a sharp one here. Calling on The New York Times’ reporting on Trump’s tax record, she zeroed in on the $400 million in debt he is believed to owe to unknown business partners or creditors.

“Just so everyone is clear, when we say in debt, it means you owe money to somebody. It would be really good to know who the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, owes money to,” Harris said. “Because the American people have a right to know what is influencing the President's decisions. And is he making those decisions on the best interests of the American people, of you, or self-interest?”

Harris did return to Biden, though not his health, citing his openness about his finances – a stark contrast with Trump.

“Joe has been incredibly transparent, over many, many years. The one thing we all know about Joe, he puts it all out there. He is honest, he's forthright,” she said. “But Donald Trump has been about covering up everything.”

Watch the moment:

10:14 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Here's how Biden's and Harris' positions on climate change compare

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were mostly aligned on climate questions, though the California senator – in part because of her office – offered more concrete support for the Green New Deal’s blueprint. She signed on to a resolution written by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2019. 

When challenged by Trump in their debate last week, Biden said he opposed the Green New Deal. And while it’s true he hasn’t embraced it, his climate plan has been (cautiously) applauded by leading environmental groups. 

“Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face,” according to his campaign website, which touts his plan as a “Clean Energy Revolution.”

Both Harris and Biden support re-entering the Paris climate agreement, ending fossil fuel extraction on public land and putting a price on carbon emissions as part of broader policy visions.

But they differed somewhat, during the primary, on fracking.

Harris said she wanted to ban the practice, beginning on federal land. 

Biden has said he wants to limit it, but rejects a ban in favor of stopping new or additional fracking on federal land. 

“I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again: I am not banning fracking,” Biden said at a speech in Pittsburgh this summer. “No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.”

Watch the exchange:

10:20 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

What happens if Obamacare disappears

From CNN's Tami Luhby

President Trump pledged in 2016 to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but that hasn’t happened. Now, his administration is backing court challenge that’s scheduled for Supreme Court just after the election in a case brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

If the court wipes away Obamacare, it would have a sweeping impact on the nation's health care system and on the lives of tens of millions of Americans — not only for the roughly 20 million people who've gained coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges and through the expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults.

The law is also what allows parents to keep their children on their health insurance plans until age 26 and obtain free mammograms, cholesterol checks and birth control.

And one of its most popular provisions is its strong protections for those with pre-existing conditions, including barring insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on people's health histories.

Read more here.