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Pence and Harris conflict over US coronavirus response

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Mike Pence and Kamala Harris clashed over Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus pandemic throughout their vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, with the Democratic challenger accusing the president of “the best failure” within the historical past of the workplace.

In distinction with final week’s chaotic presidential debate, Mr Pence, the vice-president, and Ms Harris, California senator, prevented name-calling. As an alternative, the proceedings in Salt Lake Metropolis have been marked by each candidates often sidestepping questions — and social media commentators specializing in a fly that sat on Mr Pence’s head for 2 minutes.

Ms Harris made historical past as the primary black girl to look in a US presidential or vice-presidential debate. However the occasion was unlikely to alter the contours of a race during which Mr Trump trails Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, within the polls forward of the November 3 election.

The spectre of the pandemic was obvious at the beginning of the 90-minute debate because the candidates took their seats, 12 ft aside and separated by Plexiglas shields. Solely two days earlier than, Mr Trump had left the army hospital the place he was handled for Covid-19.

Requested in regards to the administration’s response to the disaster, Ms Harris stated: “The American folks have witnessed what’s the biggest failure of any president within the historical past of our nation.”

The Trump administration, she charged, had tried to maintain the reality about coronavirus from the American folks. “They knew what was occurring and so they didn’t let you know,” she stated. “They knew and so they lined it up.”

Mr Pence, who chairs the White Home coronavirus activity power, rebuffed Ms Harris’s criticism, arguing that well being consultants had warned the administration that the virus may kill greater than 200,000 People even with one of the best preventive measures.

He defended the administration’s resolution to close down journey from China and accused the Biden marketing campaign of copying particulars of the administration’s coronavirus restoration programme for its personal plan.

“It seems to be a bit of bit like plagiarism, which is one thing Joe Biden is aware of one thing about,” Mr Pence stated, referring to accusations that in his 1988 marketing campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr Biden lifted elements of a speech from British politician Neil Kinnock.

Mr Pence proclaimed that there can be a coronavirus vaccine “in lower than a 12 months” and accused Ms Harris of “taking part in politics with folks’s lives” by expressing doubts in regards to the potential for a jab.

She stated: “If the general public well being professionals, if Dr [Anthony] Fauci, if the docs inform us that we must always take it, I would be the first in line to take it, completely. But when Donald Trump tells us that we must always take it, I’m not taking it.”

Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will likely be separated by two Plexiglas dividers attributable to fears over the unfold of Covid-19 © Bloomberg

The vice-president additionally accused Ms Harris of pushing a far-left agenda on points comparable to local weather change and the Inexperienced New Deal.

“There aren’t any extra hurricanes at this time than there have been 100 years in the past, however many local weather alarmists use hurricanes and fires to try to promote the Inexperienced New Deal,” Mr Pence stated.

Ms Harris warned that one other 4 years of a Trump administration would imply an finish to the Inexpensive Care Act, which expanded entry to well being protection. The US Supreme Courtroom will hear a Republican-led case after the election that seeks to scrap the ACA.

“When you’ve got a pre-existing situation, coronary heart illness, diabetes, breast most cancers, they’re coming for you. When you love somebody who has a pre-existing situation, they’re coming for you. In case you are below the age of 26 in your dad and mom’ protection, they’re coming for you,” Ms Harris stated.

Mr Trump has claimed that although he needs to do away with the ACA, sufferers with pre-existing situations will nonetheless have the ability to receive insurance coverage.

In lots of circumstances, the candidates prevented answering the questions posed by the moderator, Susan Web page of USA At the moment. Each uncared for, for instance, to present their view on the position of the vice-president, who is supposed to succeed a president within the occasion of demise or incapacity — a difficulty that has taken on resonance on condition that at 74 and 77, respectively, both Mr Trump or Mr Biden would set a file for being the oldest president.

Ms Harris declined to say whether or not she favoured “packing” the Supreme Courtroom by growing the variety of judges. Mr Pence ignored a query in regards to the court docket overturning the choice enshrining the constitutional proper to an abortion, solely so as to add later that he was “pro-life”.

As the controversy drew to a detailed, the candidates have been requested what they’d do if Mr Trump, as he has prompt, doesn’t settle for a peaceable switch of energy if he loses. Ms Harris responded by telling folks to vote, and vote early, if attainable. Mr Pence insisted the president would win once more.

“President Donald Trump has launched a motion of on a regular basis People from each stroll of life,” he stated. “I’ve each confidence that these People who delivered that historic victory in 2016 . . . that motion of People has solely grown stronger within the final 4 years.”

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