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US VeeP debate: A fly in the anointment

By SEC Newgate team
13 October 2020

By Phil Elwood, SEC Newgate Washington D.C.

Following the chaos of the first Presidential debate and President Donald Trump’s subsequent coronavirus diagnosis, last week’s Vice Presidential debate signaled a brief return to normalcy in American political rhetoric. If anything, the socially-distanced face-off between Vice President Mike Pence and US Senator Kamala Harris proved that Vice Presidential debates do not really matter

Public response to the debate was far more positive than it was for the Trump/Biden face off. The American public was relieved that this debate didn’t devolve into shouting and oratorical mayhem. Some called the debate boring – and welcomed that with open arms. Though the debate was more reasonable, there were renewed calls for a “mute” button to reign-in interrupting candidates, with Vice President Mike Pence often talking over California Senator Kamala Harris, leaving her to repeatedly tell him, “I’m speaking.” 

While coronavirus remained the leading topic, there was a great deal of discussion of court-packing in the debate. For those who are not familiar with the U.S. Constitution, the document is actually silent on the number of justices who sit on the Supreme Court and it has changed over the course of history. With Republicans in the U.S. Senate currently breaking their own precedent about nominations to the high court in an election year, Democrats are left considering their options for the future. The Trump team is arguing that the Democrats will pack the Court with extra judges if they win. And frankly, Team Biden isn’t really denying it

Politico’s flash poll after the debate found that the majority of respondents felt Harris won the debate. However, partisans on both sides claimed their candidate was the victor.  For the campaigns, both candidates likely achieved their limited missions: Pence intended to reassure conservatives that he is “one of them,” and Harris wanted to assure Independents and undecided voters that she was competent and capable and could be President. 

The real star of the night, however, was undoubtedly the fly that perched itself on Pence’s silver-white hair for a full two and a half minutes. The fly was immediately memorialized in campaign gear, memes, and on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live

Finally, after a back and forth on whether to make the next debate virtual following concerns regarding the White House coronavirus outbreak, it has been canceled. Trump and Biden will likely be seen in competing town halls and other campaign events throughout the week. 

You can watch the full VP debate here. For some other great moments in Vice Presidential debate history, both CNN and Fox did round-ups of the historical highs.