'Mr Vice President, I'm speaking': Harris stops Pence interrupting her at debate as she takes on VP over covid 'cover up' and climate crisis

Alex Woodward
·2-min read
 (via REUTERS)

Senator Kamala Harris repeatedly stopped vice president Mike Pence from interrupting her at the 2020 vice presidential debate as the senator criticised the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Pence leads the White House coronavirus task force.

She said the vice president had defended the president – who was aware of the severity of the crisis despite his public efforts to downplay Covid-19 – because "the president wanted people to remain calm."

Mr Pence, trying to weigh in, was told by Senator Harris: “Mr Vice President, I’m speaking.”

“I want to ask the American people: how calm were you when you were panicked about where you were going to get your next roll of toilet paper?” she said, looking into the camera.

“How calm were you when your kids were sent home from school and you didn’t know when they would go back?" she said "How calm were you when your children couldn’t see your parents because you were afraid they could kill them?”

The vice president touted the administration’s efforts to advance a vaccine and drug treatments and scale testing in the months following the outbreak.

“Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done, clearly it hasn’t worked, when you’re looking at 210,000 dead bodies,” Joe Biden’s running mate said.

Mr Pence said that “not a day goes by” where he does not mourn the thousands of dead Americans killed by the disease.

“You’ll always be in our hearts and our prayers,” he said.

The debate follows a chaotic presidential debate between the president and his Democratic opponent, marred by constant cross-talk and interruptions by the president, with moderator Chris Wallace unable to steer the debate.

Senator Harris, a veteran prosecutor and charged interrogator in Senate committees facing administration officials, entered the debate following repeat attacks by the president and with the spectre of gender and racial stereotypes that have clouded her campaigns.

In another segment on the economy, the California senator said: “If you don’t mind letting me finish, we can have a conversation, OK?”

Mr Pence had interrupted his opponent 10 times through the course of the debate; Senator Harris interrupted five times.

According to a count from CBS News, Mr Pence spoke for three more minutes than Senator Harris, for a total of roughly 38 minutes to the senator’s 35 minutes and 20 seoncds.

A CNN count found that both candidates had roughly equal speaking time – though the senator had to call out for equal time throughout the debate.

USA Today’s Susan Page, who moderated the debate, posed 12 questions to the vice president and 11 to Senator Harris.

She also received two follow-up questions and gave Mr Pence one. Both had nine chances to offer their rebuttals.

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