Live Updates Of Vice-Presidential Debate: Kamala Harris Vs Mike Pence Face Off
In few hours from now, Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris will face each other in the first ever Vice-Presidential Debate in preparation for the U.S. 2020 presidential elections.
Joe Biden is edging ahead of President Trump in Iowa and Wisconsin, tied in Ohio, and firmly leading in Florida, Pennsylvania and Nevada, polls found. Tonight’s debate starts at 9 p.m. Eastern. Federal judges ruled that New York prosecutors can obtain the president’s tax returns.
Plexiglass, preparation and planning as the candidates gear up for a high-stakes vice-presidential debate.
The plexiglass dividers that will separate Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris when they face off at their debate tonight in Salt Lake City will serve as powerful reminders of how the coronavirus has upended the presidential campaign and life in America.
A pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 people in the U.S. and cost millions of jobs was always going to be front and center in the campaign, but the physical dividers — the subject of a mini-debate about the debate when aides to Mr. Pence briefly objected to them — underscore the extent to which the outbreak has spread in recent days through the top levels of government, infecting President Trump, military leaders and several members of the Senate.
The outbreak served as a grim reminder of the main role of a vice president: to be able to step in and lead should the president become incapacitated or die.
As reported by NYTimes, Ms. Harris, still a relative newcomer to national politics who arrived in Washington as a senator in 2017, will have to make the case that she is ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. And Mr. Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, will likely have to defend the government’s response to the virus — an effort that lagged behind other developed countries in Europe and Asia.
Both candidates have been preparing carefully. Mr. Pence went to Salt Lake City with two core players in his debate prep: Marc Short, his chief of staff, and the former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who played Ms. Harris in several formal 90-minute debate prep sessions that were held with the answers timed. (Aides said that Mr. Pence likes to prepare with people he feels comfortable with, and so they chose Mr. Walker — who had helped him prepare for his debate four years ago — rather than someone who was trying to look or sound like his opponent.)
At Ms. Harris’s mock debate sessions, Mr. Pence was played by Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who ran in the Democratic presidential primary. Mr. Buttigieg was selected, aides said, for his debating skills and also because of his knowledge of Mr. Pence’s record as governor in their shared home state, Indiana.
What polling tells us ahead of the debate
As they prepare for their debate, Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris are confronting an electorate that is more or less divided. About one-fifth of voters say they don’t have much of an opinion of each candidate, but among those who do, strong opinions outnumber mildly favorable or unfavorable views.
Here’s what polling can tell us about the candidates and the debate.
Has Pence’s role in the virus response affected views of him?
Ms. Harris is unlikely to let Mr. Pence easily escape the fact that he was appointed to lead the White House’s coronavirus response — an effort that a wide majority of Americans not only disapprove of, but also have come to resent.
More than two-thirds of Americans said in an Axios/Ipsos poll late last month that they had little confidence in the federal government to look out for their best interests when it comes to the pandemic.
Still, in CNN polling conducted after President Trump announced his positive coronavirus test results on Friday, 62 percent of Americans said they thought Mr. Pence was qualified to serve as president. Just 35 percent said they didn’t think so. (Men were 12 points more likely than women to find him qualified.)
Harris is the only top candidate with net-positive ratings, but not by a lot.
Ms. Harris tends to fare slightly better than Mr. Pence in public perception and, on average, national polling shows that more Americans view her positively than negatively. In a Monmouth poll from early September, 43 percent gave her positive marks, and 37 percent saw her negatively. As with Mr. Pence, one in five said they had no opinion.
How will the fight over the virus and the debate itself play?
Despite widespread concern over the virus, recent polling showed that a large majority of Americans wanted the debates to go forward. More than three-quarters of likely voters in both Pennsylvania and Florida told New York Times/Siena College pollsters last week that they thought the other two presidential debates should go ahead as planned. But many of those respondents were contacted before Mr. Trump announced he had tested positive.
In the CNN poll taken after his diagnosis was made public, 63 percent of Americans said they thought the president had acted irresponsibly toward those around him in handling the risk of infection. That included more than seven in 10 women, and even a majority of white people without college degrees, a core Trump constituency.
While he has tested negative in recent days, Mr. Pence attended a White House event that has been linked to numerous officials who have since tested positive. Medical experts say there is still a chance that he could be carrying the virus.
Americans have consistently said in polls that they preferred to lean toward caution on lifting virus restrictions.