Lost in all of the drama surrounding President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis is the fact that there is a vice presidential debate scheduled for this Wednesday. As the only debate between the two vice-presidential candidates this election season, all eyes and ears are sure to be fixed on current Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic competitor, Sen. Kamala Harris. While vice presidential debates are generally afterthoughts when compared to the scope of the entirety of the election process, this particular debate carries more weight due to the current political theater engulfing the nation.
Details of the Debate: The vice presidential debate is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. The event is set to begin at 6 pm ET and will be moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page. The candidates will be seated at least 12 feet away from each other.Read More »
The event is scheduled to last for 90 minutes with no commercial interruption. There will be nine topics up for debate, with each topic receiving 10 minutes of discussion time. All major networks and cable news stations are expected to carry the debate live.
Pence Forced to Pick Up Pace: With Trump sidelined from the campaign trail due to his COVID-19 virus diagnosis, the onus falls on Pence to pick up the slack and win over the very few undecided voters still out there. Despite being exposed to multiple people in the Trump administration and Republican circles who have been diagnosed with the virus, Pence continues to tour the nation, leaning on his negative test results for justification.
Those in the Pence camp are hoping that the vice president will continue to convey the steady and calm approach to discussion, painting him in direct contrast to the more combative Trump. Viewers should expect a more tempered discussion compared to what the nation witnessed last Tuesday when Trump and Biden squared off against each other.
High Expectations for Harris: Heading into the debate, expectations are high that Harris will use her skills as a prosecutor to shine. Harris has built a strong reputation during her time in the Senate as a skilled debater and relentless prosecutor. Those in the Harris camp are understandably concerned that Harris may be put on too high of a pedestal. When expectations are high, it is much more difficult to walk off of the debate floor feeling like the winner.
Some sources are reporting that Harris is prepping for the debate with former Democratic presidential candidate rival Pete Buttigieg. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana is no stranger to Pence. Buttigieg was mayor when Pence was the governor of Indiana. Harris has been in Utah since over the weekend, stating that she wanted to minimize travel this week due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
Increasingly High Stakes: The age of both presidential candidates is a central theme of this election season. Trump is 74 years old while Biden is 77. Their advanced age serves as a constant reminder that the country is also possibly voting for a presidential successor when casting their ballot. Both Pence and Harris will use the stage to assure voters that they are capable of taking over the presidency if needed.
In addition, there is still much uncertainty surrounding Trump and his ability to participate in the next presidential debate, currently scheduled for October 15. The third and final presidential debate is scheduled for October 22. Should Trump not recover in time to participate in both of these debates, this upcoming discussion between Pence and Harris will be the last major event of the election season.
Both vice-presidential candidates have the opportunity to use this stage to do what critics on both sides argued that neither presidential candidate could do last week. That task is to present themselves as a calm and rational leader ready to take on the challenges of COVID-19 and put a broken nation back together again.
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