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Kamala Harris holds her own on VP debate stage

Washington: Even more important than analyzing who won the vice presidential debate is the fact that history was made Wednesday when the first South Asian / African American woman was seen on such a national platform. Senator Kamala Harris stayed in command, smiled, took notes and often gave Vice President Mike Pence withering looks that won the visual performance for the television audience.

The VP debate at University of Utah in Salt Lake City had assumed unusual importance and limelight after the hospitalization of President Trump elevated the vice president’s role and caused both sides to re-evaluate their strategy in the final stretch of the campaign.

In the end, there were no knockout punches, both Harris and Pence ducked uncomfortable questions like Trump response to the pandemic and packing the Supreme Court. The debate was civil and more substantive than the first presidential debate (next one is in doubt), but it is not going to move the needle either way considering very few voters are undecided at this stage.

Pence played to his strengths, stayed calm and defended President Trump’s positions and performance.  He also tried to frame Harris and Biden as radical left wingers.

Harris condemned what she called “the greatest failure of any presidential administration”.

Pence  moment, however, came around the 30th minute, saying “the American comeback is on the ballot”.

James Carville, a Democratic strategist, said about Harris, “I will not be lectured – she drove that part home. She referred to Biden as Joe throughout, which was great,”

“It’s a good night for Joe Biden,” Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, agreed.

Some observers felt Harris was too abrasive while others said she was not assertive enough and pulled back some punches. President Trump built on the former. The morning after the debate night, he attacked her as “a monster”.

“This monster that was on stage with Mike Pence, who destroyed her last night by the way, but this monster, she says no no there won’t be fracking, everything she said is a lie,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo.

He went on to call her “horrible,” and “totally unlikeable,” and a “communist.”

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