2020 vice presidential debate

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

Updated 2:23 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
32 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
9:41 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Pence tells Harris to "stop playing politics" with lives

Analysis from CNN's Kevin Liptak

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

“Stop playing politics with people’s lives” is a phrase you would probably expect during a debate this year — just not coming from someone working for President Trump.

Nevertheless, Vice President Mike Pence made the accusation, saying Sen. Kamala Harris was undermining confidence in an eventual coronavirus vaccine by saying she wouldn’t take it unless it was endorsed by public health experts.

"The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges during the Trump Administration, I think is unconscionable,” Pence said. “Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

His attack seemed to ignore the repeated efforts by Trump to explicitly insert politics into the pandemic, including efforts to develop a vaccine.

Just hours earlier, Trump made explicit acknowledgment that vaccine development was being influenced by politics, bemoaning rules that make it unlikely a vaccine will be approved by Election Day. And CNN reported on Tuesday that Trump has phoned vaccine makers to press them to work quicker on a vaccine — preferably before Nov. 3.

9:47 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Pence defends packed Rose Garden event: Trump administration trusts Americans

From CNN's Betsy Klein:

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

Vice President Mike Pence defended the administration’s decision to hold a packed event in the White House Rose Garden 11 days ago amid a global pandemic, days before the President, first lady, and multiple attendees tested positive for Covid-19. 

Pence framed his response through the lens of personal freedom as he answered a question from vice presidential debate moderator Susan Page about the event, that, Page suggested, “seems to have been a super spreader event,” and how the administration could expect Americans to follow safety guidelines when they did not follow them themselves.

There was no social distancing in the Rose Garden. Very few attendees wore masks. At least 12 people have since tested positive

“The American people have demonstrated over the last eight months -- they've been given the facts, they're willing to put the health of their families and their neighbors and people they don't even know first. President Trump and I have great confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice,” Pence said. 

Pence further defended the decision to hold the event. 

“The reality is, the work of the President of the United States goes on. A vacancy in the Supreme Court of the United States has come upon us and the president introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett,” he said. 

He dismissed questions that the event could have been a “super spreader” as “a great deal of speculation, and noted that “many,” though not all, people at the event “actually were tested for coronavirus.”

He also highlighted that the event was outside, “Which all of our scientists regularly routinely advise.” However, before guests headed to the Rose Garden, some attended gatherings inside the White House reception rooms where social distancing was not practiced — including with hugs and handshakes.

“The difference here is President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health,” he said, pivoting to criticize Democratic nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate for “consistently” talking about mandates.

Here's who has tested positive and negative for Covid-19 in Trump's circle

This is how the question played out:

9:34 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Here's what the Green New Deal actually says

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

Green New Deal fits perfectly on a bumper sticker.

But the proposal isn't a simple fix for what ails the US. It would equal taking American society back to the drawing board and rebuilding it from the safety net up.

As written, it is more a list of ideas and ideals than an actual proposal, although the new climate change regulations it suggests could run to $1 trillion.

What was entered as official legislative language on Capitol Hill declares the government should take a stronger position on everything from cutting carbon emissions to giving every American a job to working with family farmers to retrofitting every building in the country.

Read more here.

9:43 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Harris on a vaccine: "If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I'm not taking it"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., answers a question as Vice President Mike Pence listens during the vice presidential debate on Wed
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., answers a question as Vice President Mike Pence listens during the vice presidential debate on Wed Morry Gash/Pool/AP

Kamala Harris directly said on Wednesday that if there is a coronavirus vaccine available during Donald Trump’s administration that is not embraced by scientific advisers but pushed by the President, she will not take it.

But if the scientific advisers like Dr. Anthony Fauci back the vaccine, she would.

“If Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”

The Trump campaign has slammed Harris during the campaign for questioning a vaccine approved by Trump.

Harris, echoing her answer tonight, told CNN earlier this year that she would not outright trust a vaccine unless it came from a “credible” source.

Vice President Mike Pence jumped on those past comments tonight.

“Your continuous undermining of confidence in a vaccine is unacceptable,” Pence said.

Watch the exchange:

9:29 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Americans have sacrificed too much due to the "incompetence of this administration," Harris says

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris responds to a question during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris responds to a question during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP

Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, took umbrage with how President Trump and his administration responded to the coronavirus pandemic, saying people needed information they may "not want people to hear, but they need to hear so they can protect themselves."

"Let's talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth. You respect the American people when you have the courage to be a leader, speaking of those things you may not want people to hear, but they need to hear so they can protect themselves. But this administration stood on information that if you had as a parent or a worker, if you didn't have enough money saved up, you're standing in a food line because of the ineptitude," Harris said. "They've had to sacrifice far too much because of the incompetence of this administration."

Watch the moment:

9:33 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Pence knocks Biden for plagiarism, the issue that ended his 1988 campaign

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Vice President Mike Pence responds during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Vice President Mike Pence responds during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP

Vice President Mike Pence took his first crack at Joe Biden minutes into the debate, making an allusion to the decades-old episode which ended Biden’s first presidential bid.

Describing the Biden-Harris plan to combat coronavirus, Pence suggested it was ripped from the current Trump administration approach.

“It looks a little like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little about,” he said as his opening answer was concluding.

Biden withdrew from the 1988 presidential race after acknowledging he lifted phrases from a British politician without attribution. Pence’s line was an early cut that signaled his willingness to make personal attacks, even amid answers about policy and governing.

Watch the moment:

9:30 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Harris: Trump's handling of Covid "the greatest failure of any presidential administration"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Kamala Harris arrives on stage for the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Kamala Harris arrives on stage for the vice presidential debate on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Kamala Harris opened the presidential debate by honing in on Mike Pence and the Trump administration’s greatest vulnerability: The handling of the coronavirus.

“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said at the outset of the debate before attacking the Trump administration for obscuring the facts around the virus.

Citing interview done between Trump and Bob Woodward at the outset of the virus where the President said he wanted to minimize the virus, Harris said, “They knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you. Can you imagine if you knew on January 28, as opposed to March 13, what they knew, what you might have done to prepare? They knew and they covered it up.”

Harris added: “They minimized the seriousness of it.”

Coronavirus will likely be the most important issue at the debate, both because of the way it has reshaped American life and the fact that Trump is still in the White House recovering from the disease.

Harris said that the Biden administration would focus on “contact tracing, testing, administration of the vaccine, and making sure that it will be free for all.”

“That is the plan that Joe Biden has and that I have, knowing that we have to get ahold of what has been going on,” Harris concluded.

Hear Sen. Harris' answer:

9:22 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

Moderator to Pence and Harris: Be polite!

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Moderator USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page takes her seat for the vice presidential debate between Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence at the University of Utah Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
Moderator USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page takes her seat for the vice presidential debate between Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence at the University of Utah Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Justin Sullivan/Pool/AP

Moderator Susan Page began the debate by beseeching Mike Pence and Kamala Harris to mind their manners – a none-too-subtle nod to President Trump’s behavior at least week’s debate with Joe Biden.

“You will have two minutes to answer without interruption by me, or the other candidate,” Page said.

She went on: “We want a debate that is lively. But Americans also deserve a discussion that is civil. These are tumultuous times, but we can and will have a respectful exchange. Let's begin with the ongoing pandemic that has cost our country so much.”

And so they did. Pence started off his first answer by saying what an honor it was to share the stage with Harris.

After a debate many observers described as the nastiest in modern history, there’s nowhere to go but up.

See the moment:

9:09 p.m. ET, October 7, 2020

The candidates are talking about Covid-19 now. Here are the facts you should know

From CNN's Amanda Watts and Ben Tinker

The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the population and economy has become a key issue of the 2020 election and continues to shape the campaign.

Here are key facts you need to know:

  • US deaths: More than 211,000 people have died from coronavirus in the US.
  • US cases: The US leads the world in total confirmed coronavirus cases with over 7.5 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University data. India, Brazil and Russia follow behind.
  • Daily infections: In a sign that cases are trending up across the United States, for the first time since Aug. 21, the nation is seeing and average of over 44,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, according to Johns Hopkins University data.  Currently, the nation averages 44,190 new cases per day, that is up 7% from last week.   
  • Vaccine development: There are currently 10 Covid-19 vaccine candidates in late-stage, large clinical trials around the world as of Oct. 6, according to the World Health Organization.
  • Vaccine timeline: A vaccine could be available in limited doses as soon as November or December, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted earlier this week. The US Food and Drug Administration made clear Tuesday it will want to see two months of follow-up data after volunteers get their second dose of vaccine as part of clinical trials testing potential coronavirus vaccines. That would make it difficult, if not impossible, for any vaccine maker to apply for emergency use authorization by Election Day, as President Trump has tried to promise, or by the end of October, as the CEO of Pfizer has hinted.

Here's where new cases are rising across the US in comparison to the previous week: