By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Vice President Mike Pence effectively evaded question after question and claimed that there’s no systemic racism in America during the first and only 2020 debate between him and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Separated by plexiglass and distanced by more than 12 feet, the two contestants battled over topics ranging from the coronavirus, health care and climate change.
“Let’s talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth,” Harris told Pence, who responded that he and President Donald Trump had always put the health of Americans first.
Stricken ill by the virus, Trump admitted to Journalist Bob Woodward that he hid the pandemic’s seriousness from the American people.
“The president said it was a hoax,” Harris remarked.
With regularity, Pence went over time and moderator Susan Page of USA Today, repeatedly admonished him, often to no avail.
While the Oct. 7 contest didn’t present as the disaster that was the first presidential debate late last month, it still lacked much substance because both candidates failed to answer some direct questions.
When the topic turned to race and the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Harris reminded the audience of Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists.
At the same time, Pence attacked protestors as “rioters and looters.”
“Then he said, when pressed, ‘stand back, stand by,’ and this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump’s,” Harris declared about the president’s awkward statement during his debate with Democrat Candidate Joe Biden.
“He called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He instituted as his first act a Muslim ban,” Harris said.
Pence responded by noting that Trump’s grandchildren are Jewish.
He said Breonna Taylor’s family has his sympathy and predicted the loved ones of George Floyd would receive justice.
“Our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life,” Pence said. “And the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system.”
Despite a troubling September jobs report and Trump shutting off COVID-19 relief talks that could help ailing businesses, municipalities and citizens, Pence claimed the Trump administration had added millions of jobs, and the economy is on the upswing.
“When President Trump and I took office, America had gone through the slowest economic recovery since the great depression. We’re going through a pandemic that lost 22 million jobs at the height, we’ve already added back 11.6 million jobs,” Pence claimed.
Attempting to become the first African American and woman vice president, Harris told viewers that she and Biden expect to win the election.
Asked about Trump’s repeated refusal to agree to a peaceful transfer of power, Harris indicated that she and Biden are prepared for such a scenario.
“Joe and I are particularly proud of the coalition that we have built around our campaign. We probably have one of the broadest coalitions of folks that you’ve ever seen in a presidential race,” Harris stated.
“It is within our power, and if we use our society, and we use our voice, we will win.” She then added, “And we will not let anyone subvert our democracy.