‘Greatest failure of any administration’: Harris attacks Pence over COVID crisis

Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris have begun facing off in what is their only vice presidential debate in the US election campaign.

The candidates are separated by plexiglass barriers in an auditorium in Utah where any guest who refuses to wear a face mask will be removed.

Mr Pence and Ms Harris began by sparring over the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus, a point that highlighted the parties’ sharply conflicting visions for a nation in crisis.

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“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Ms Harris said as Pence, who leads the president’s coronavirus task force, shook his head.

Mike Pence v Kamala Harris - How their views compare

Mike Pence v Kamala Harris – How their views compare

Mr Pence acknowledged that, “Our nation’s gone through a very challenging time this year.

“I want the American people to know, from the very first day, President Trump has put the health of America first,” Mr Pence said, promising millions of doses of a yet-to-be-announced treatment before the end of the year.

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Speaking directly to the camera, as Mr Biden did in his chaotic first debate with President Donald Trump, Ms Harris said of the government: “They knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you.”

A simple guide to the 2020 presidential race

A simple guide to the 2020 presidential race

In response, Mr Pence commended Mr Trump’s decision to shut off travel from China, saying the decision “bought us invaluable time” to coordinate the country’s response to the pandemic, although Mr Trump’s move only cut off some travel from China, and tens of thousands of people were still allowed to pour into the country.

More than 210,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. Mr Trump is recovering at the White House from his own infection.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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