“I’m Speaking”: How Kamala Harris Won The US Debate

Leora Yashari
·2-min read

The US Vice Presidential debate was perhaps destined to be cursed: From President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and allegedly rapid recovery to the two seemingly inadequate pieces of plexiglass separating Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, it was hard not to straight up anticipate a disaster. And while we knew that a debate without Trump would feel somewhat low-key by comparison, what we weren’t expecting was Harris delivering a masterclass in how to silence a problematic white man.

Kicking off Wednesday night’s festivities with an “I already won”-level of confidence, Harris delivered expert responses to moderator Susan Page’s questions about the Trump administration’s handling of COVID-19. “The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris said, explaining how Trump’s lack of action resulted in frontline workers being treated as “sacrificial.”

Harris also cited the fact that both Trump and Pence understood the repercussions of a COVID-19 spread as early as 28th January, but neglected to inform the American people. To this, Pence responded by bringing up the 2009 Swine flu outbreak before suggesting that Harris should “stop playing politics with people’s lives.” Which, ok!!

But while Pence deflected question after question, randomly bringing up Amy Coney Barrett at every turn, Harris stole the show. In a divisive moment when Pence pulled a Trump and audaciously tried to interrupt Harris during her speaking time, she simply stopped, turned in his direction and said: “Mr Vice President, I’m speaking.”

Pence continued to ramble and attempt to derail Harris, speaking over her (and over her, and over her), and each time, Harris smiled (nay, chuckled) and said “Mr Vice president, I’m speaking, okay?”

And Harris wasn’t the only woman at the debate who Pence regularly interrupted. Over the course of an hour and a half, Page began to sound like a broken record by repeating the words, “Thank you Mr Vice President,” to indicate that Pence’s speaking time was up. And when he refused to stop speaking, Page was forced to remind him of the debate rules.

The moment — while absolutely viral-worthy — was more than just a future Saturday Night Live sketch: It showed us what a Vice President looks like. While Pence was prepared to divert answers and speak over literally every person on the debate stage, Harris, one of only four women who have participated in presidential and vice presidential debates, remained calm, deliberate in her answers, and left no room for sexist bait.

“It is within our power, and if we use our power, and if we use our voice, we will win,” Harris said.

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