HYVC Takes on the VP Debate


Harriton Banner Staff

In our second interview with the Harriton Youth Voter Committee, we asked them a series of questions regarding the first vice presidential debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence on October 7, 2020. From the avoidance of questions to the infamous fly on Pence’s head, here is what they had to say about the night.

What are 1-2 words you would use to describe this debate?

Thomas Batteur: Evasive

Lana Burke: Disappointing, unproductive

Neha Dhanwada: Elusive 

Sarina Goyal: Comical, frustrating

Evie Greenberg: Typical, a relief

Olivia Kim: Expectedly disappointing

Kaelyn Klatte: Chaotic and/or poorly managed

Gabriel Klaumenzer: Influential and informative

Ben Kozloff: An interview, not a debate

Erika Kurre: Unanswered questions

Ben Samahon: Improvement? No.

Jordan Teicher: Calm, straightforward 

What were your thoughts on Senator Harris’ performance?

TB: [She] remained significantly more poised than Pence. However, compared with the previous Trump-Biden debate, any form of constraint and respect displayed by either candidate was a significant improvement. Senator Harris had a few memorable jabs at Pence and Trump, Especially while being interrupted by Pence, she would show resilience with a defiant,”Mr. Vice-President, I am speaking.” Harris’s biggest gaffe of the night came from her vague response to Pence’s claim of the Democrats attempting to pack the Supreme Court. Instead of directly responding, Harris provided a history lesson of Lincoln’s decision to not nominate a new Supreme Court justice in the 1860 election. 

ND: While I think Harris held her own quite well, I got the impression that she was compensating for her nervousness with cockiness (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). She seemed to have been treading this fine line between accommodating yet disputatious and just plain argumentative, but it seemed to have held her back for some moments in the debate.

SG: I think she did a good job of addressing the people instead of playing into Pence’s accusatory tactics. I also like how she brought up specific policies and things the Biden-Harris campaign would do if elected and compared it to the Trump-Pence campaign. I do think she avoided some of the moderator’s questions and I also think she should’ve addressed the LGBTQ community since that is such a hot topic right now.

EG: I thought that Senator Harris performed very well, it was really her debate to lose, and she certainly pulled through. Her job was to stay out of the headlines and keep the campaign on its current trajectory, and I think she did an excellent job at that.

OK: I felt that she did about as expected while in her position. There’s definitely a lot of disappointment surrounding the way they didn’t answer a lot of questions, but I understand that the Democrats are in a difficult place trying to appeal to the moderates while appeasing the left. I was definitely surprised at the lack of answer to the question regarding court-packing

BK: Harris largely remained on message and consistent. It is hard to argue with the fact that Mike Pence as the chair of the COVID Task Force is responsible for the US’s response to the pandemic. She had plenty of ammunition to attack the Trump/Pence administration with the fact that the President and Vice President knew about the disease in January, confirmed by the Bob Woodward tape. Phrases like “210,000 dead Americans” and “grieving families” hit especially hard. 

What were your thoughts on Vice President Pence’s performance?

LB: Vice President Pence’s performance was interesting, due in part to the manner in which he spoke. He spoke very generally, and rarely included solutions and facts in his answers to Susan’s questions. I thought that he didn’t give adequate reasoning to support his candidate, and didn’t do Trump any justice during the debate, which I feel is his job: to support and show why America should favor his presidential candidate. 

EG: Vice President Pence also performed admirably, he certainly came across as a stable figure which is something the Trump ticket desperately needed

GK: He’s very good at dodging questions. I think Pence said the same things that people are generally disappointed about in him. I disliked when he said China is to blame for COVID; obviously, they are not because no one knew how big this disease would be. However, I think he did have a slightly valid point on China withholding info to make the virus seem not that bad. Nonetheless, at the end when he answered a student question, I do think it was the right thing to say that despite being the political opposition, we need to stop assuming bad things about the people on the other side. 

BK: Pence made a strong point that Sen. Harris had undermined confidence in a COVID vaccine when indeed 5 American companies are in the final phase of clinical trials.

EK: Although Pence was a more civil debater than Trump, he still interrupted Harris quite a few times. He seemed too focused on some questions, as he constantly went back to the question before once the moderator asked a new question. He tried to avoid questions or lied on important topics like Roe v Wade, taxes, climate change, and more. 

BS: I had really low expectations for Pence, especially after his running mate’s temperament last debate. That being said, Pence was more articulate than I had initially thought, although much of what came out of his mouth was far-right garbage and conspiracy theories (which is not to say that the left doesn’t have its fair share of conspiracy theories). Also, the fly plastered on Pence’s Eminem-like hairline—I can’t wait to see that on Twitter for the next month and a half.

What was the most disappointing and surprising part of the debate? 

ND: I’m quite disappointed—but not surprised—by the public response from the debate, focusing on the fly rather than the actual points and policies mentioned. Some things said raised a few eyebrows but were overshadowed by fly-swatter merchandise.

SG: It was disappointing to see how Pence didn’t really answer most of the questions because I wanted to get a true insight into how he and Trump felt.

KK: The most disappointing part of the debate was how the moderator refused to call out the candidates. Pence had too many opportunities to talk over Harris, and the candidates, in my opinion, were given unfair treatment. I will have to admit that I expected the debate to be a lot more aggressive than it really was.

BS: Senator Harris’ position on fracking. How can Biden-Harris claim to be the ‘campaign of science’ when they are willing to ignore the environmental consequences of fracking and the science on it? When will the DNC learn that environmental protection is not radical and that there is no compromise when it comes to the future of our planet?

JT: The most disappointing part of the debate was the lack of talk on the coronavirus vaccine being developed.  Both the Senator and Vice President talked about it but never really focused on it. The most surprising part of the debate was when Senator Harris made the statement that she would not take a Coronavirus vaccine if President Trump said it was safe to get.