Senator Kamala Harris, as expected, did not hold back in her attempt to tie Vice-President Mike Pence to every development that has unfolded in the last four years under the presidency of Donald Trump.
If the strategy was for Pence to humanize his boss or smoothen the rough edges left by the president’s performance last week, many Americans did not believe this worked. A CNN Instant Poll of registered voters reported 59% believed the senator from California carried the night.
On the other hand, 38% said Pence did the better job on answering the questions. While the vice-president’s favorability stood at 41% before and after the debate, Harris saw hers jump from 56% to 63% following her performance on Wednesday night.
But what exactly did we learn during the debate? Here are three impressions that were left with Face2face Africa.
Harris and Pence are the ideological buffs on their tickets
Perhaps, this should come as little surprise that the two running-mates to presidential candidates Trump and Joe Biden are well-versed in the ideological motivations that bind the elements which support their tickets. Trump and Biden have relied on their abilities to epitomize sentiments more than anything else – Trump as white and conservative America’s hopes with Biden personalizing normalcy or stability and grounds for progressive change.
But Pence and Harris realize their roles and they play it well, even if the vice-president is not one to answer the moderator’s questions. The two politicians complement their bosses by capably speaking to the conservative and liberal/progressive values their sympathizers want to hear.
Pence may not be the gentleman everyone thinks
This is not supposed to be critical as much as it is a revelation of political character. The vice-president was brought in onto the ticket as a moderating influence on Trump as well as be the voice of conservative constitutionalists.
But when he was asked if this White House was committed to handing over power if Trump loses the election, Pence refused to answer, rather pointing out that “I believe we are going to win”. All who had expected him to be the voice of due process should be remaking their minds now.
We may not have been paying attention a while ago but Pence had previewed this side of his game. He was one of the conservatives who, in 2015, said it was illegal for Trump to push a Muslim immigration ban and then sought to defend what the administration did in 2017.
The pandemic makes the White House uncomfortable
For all his stealth, Pence did betray the White House’s fears about what damage the Trump administration might suffer in the election because of how it has managed the coronavirus pandemic. When Harris and the moderator tried to exact answers about how Trump has dealt with the pandemic that has taken more than 210,000 lives, Pence pivoted.
“President Trump and I trust the American people to make the best choices for themselves about their health,” he said. But it is difficult to see how Republican strategists believe this is a winning response to a situation where most Americans agree the federal government should take a bigger role in keeping people safe.