VP debate: Polite and well-mannered, but evasive and forgettable

They call it the ‘do no harm’ debate and, well, it did no harm.

After this vice presidential showdown, it would be a surprise if there was any change in the polls. Sure, Kamala Harris and Mike Pence tackled the big issues but there was little we hadn’t heard before and there was no game-changing headline.

What we did get was evasion. By Mike Pence on healthcare and people with pre-existing conditions, by Kamala Harris on speculation that Democrats intend to pack the Supreme Court with like-minded judges. And more.

VP debate as it happened

The furniture screamed ‘coronavirus’, as the candidates sat 12 feet apart with plexiglass between them. The virus loomed large in debate, as did the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign policy and the transfer of power following the election – Mike Pence declined to guarantee a peaceful process.

There was plenty to pore over for the political purists but, for the average American viewer and voter, maybe not so much.

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‘Doctors – not Trump – should endorse vaccine’

The debate was strikingly different from last week’s version played out by the presidential candidates. By contrast, this was polite and well-mannered albeit not without interruptions.

Kamala Harris presented a calm, positive demeanour speaking directly to camera, even if she didn’t have a ‘moment’ that she’s become known for in on-stage political debate.

More from Us Election 2020

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  • US election 2020: Pence denies President Donald Trump in charge of ‘greatest failure’

  • US election 2020: Will the result end up in court?

  • Trump coronavirus: More White House aides test positive for COVID-19 as Biden calls for second debate to be cancelled

  • US Election 2020: Michelle Obama issues blistering attack on ‘racist’ and ‘liar’ Trump

  • Mike Pence: A profile of the ex-Indiana governor playing on strong Republican credentials

Mike Pence reminded the audience of his professional background as a smooth-talking radio talk show host as he made his best efforts to deconstruct the Biden-Harris case in a way that could shift an electorate that’s largely made up its mind.

In the event, neither did the heavy lifting that would shift their respective core vote and there was little to influence the fringes.

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Fly makes itself at home on Mike Pence

Tellingly, one of the more memorable moments was when a fly landed on Mike Pence’s white hair and wouldn’t leave. It was agonising and seemingly never-ending.

Unforgettable in one of the more forgettable US political TV showdowns.

Mark Gibson

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

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