New York, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, her idea of plexiglass partitions on stage and a lone fly that landed in US Vice President Mike Pence’s hair came out swinging at the end of the first and only debate between the two in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The social media watch party had a laugh riot with fly tales: “Pence didn’t remove the fly. The fly left him when it got bored”. The fly nested for a little more than two minutes on Pence’s head during the debate on Wednesday night.
Harris stayed in command, she smiled, she took notes and often gave Pence withering looks that won the visual performance for the television audience. Pence played to his strengths, stayed calm and painted a stark contrast with his boss, President Donald Trump.
“I will not be lectured, she drove that part home. She referred to Biden as Joe throughout, which was great,” James Carville, a Democratic strategist, said.
Pence spent 90 minutes trying to defend the Trump administration and framed Harris and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as radical left wingers – an old song.
“He was patronising, which drove the women crazy. He was boring and he lost the men,” is how former Missouri senator Claire McCaskill reacted.
“This may not move the polls but it gives Americans a good idea of who Kamala Harris is. There’s a certain joy about her which she brought with her.”
Pence came in for stinging criticism for doing what former Republicans call the “I’ll go check with my wife and let you know look”.
Overall, Pence, in his signature soporific style, defended the administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic that has so far infected a total of 7,547,929 people and killed 211,753 others.
That was a hard act to pull off and Harris stepped on the pedal instantly, slamming Trump and Pence for America’s disastrous pandemic response.
Harris condemned what she called “the greatest failure of any presidential administration”.
For most part, Pence droned on, prosecuted the Obama-Biden case well in parts and oozed syrupy platitudes on Trump’s fitness for four more years.
Pence’s moment came around the 30th minute, saying “the American comeback is on the ballot”.
Harris, after punching hard in the early minutes, came into her own on questions around healthcare. “If you have a loved one with a pre-existing condition, they’re coming for you,” she warned Americans.
When they skirted issues, both Harris and Pence called each other’s party a “disaster”.
The prime-time meeting was a chance for American voters to decide whether Pence or Harris is ready to take on the duties of the presidency before the end of the next term.
That question did come up during the debate.
Trump, 74, is recovering from the coronavirus, and if elected 77-year-old Biden would be the oldest President ever.
Both the Vice Presidential nominees did not answer the question directly, just as they sidestepped some other issues and instead inserted elliptical scripted remarks.