The left argues that both candidates did well but that Harris was better.
“The main takeaway from this debate was that even Mike Pence cannot ably defend the president’s record or character. Pence did not explain to the audience why the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is so high, nor could he offer a coherent reason for why the Trump administration is challenging the Affordable Care Act in the midst of a pandemic…
“In contrast, Harris more than met the moment, with a cool, confident performance. She reminded voters of Trump’s reported insults of fallen service members, his bigotry and his refusal to condemn white supremacy at the last debate. She reiterated her ticket’s belief in climate change, and in waiting until after the election to nominate a new Supreme Court justice. Her statistics about the health and economic impact of the coronavirus were on point.”
Raul A. Reyes, USA Today
“[Pence] accused accused Biden of calling Trump’s travel ban ‘hysterical’ and ‘xenophobic.’ In fact, Biden’s comments using those words made no mention of the travel ban, and it wasn’t even clear whether he was aware it had been announced around the same time he spoke. After Harris attacked the administration’s response, Pence shot back, ‘When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn’t worked, that’s a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people [have made].’ In fact, Harris had said nothing criticizing the steps [taken] by average Americans; she criticized the administration’s actions. It was a remarkable deflection.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post
“Like Trump before him, Pence invoked the Obama administration’s handling of the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. The White House botched that pandemic badly, Pence claimed, adding that if the virus had been as deadly as COVID-19, two million people could have died. That’s a pretty big if! Asking voters to blame Joe Biden for what happened to them in an alternate universe than the one in which they lived only underscores how flimsy Pence and Trump’s record is on this pandemic. Is a counterfactual about swine flu really the best they can do? At this point, it seems like it.”
Tim Murphy, Mother Jones
“When discussing taxes, Pence hewed to the talking point that the average family of four saved $2,000 a year and that Biden had promised to repeal the Trump tax cuts, thus raising taxes on everyone. Harris protested that Biden has promised not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000… [but] didn’t manage to explain how Biden’s plan actually works, and she was unable to explain that the Trump tax bill overwhelmingly delivered cuts to corporations, non-corporate businesses, and heirs to multimillion-dollar fortunes while actually managing to raise taxes on at least some middle-class households…
“Misleading rhetoric is a thing that happens in politics. And when it happens to you live on a debate stage, you need to do something about it — something like point out that your opponent is ducking questions and misrepresenting his positions… Harris didn’t do that. She didn’t bring up the minimum wage, or the way Trump’s payroll tax shenanigans jeopardize Social Security, or any of a half-dozen other bread-and-butter Democratic Party go-tos.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox
“In 2016, Trump promised he’d break with conservative orthodoxy and propose a plan even more expansive than Obamacare… Trump never produced that plan and instead has simply kept lying about its existence. At the first debate, he said again that he had a comprehensive replacement, when he has nothing of the sort. Pence echoed him on Wednesday… There’s a reason Trump and Pence keep lying about Obamacare, and Biden and Harris keep bringing it up… Americans want the government to guarantee affordable, usable health insurance.”
Ezra Klein, Vox
“Both candidates repeatedly failed to answer questions and used their time to unpack prefabricated arguments… Harris refused to say whether a Biden-Harris administration would attempt to enlarge the Supreme Court if the Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s last-minute nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Pence, while characterizing himself and Trump as ‘pro-life,’ evaded a question from moderator Susan Page about what restrictions on abortion he would want to see his home state of Indiana to adopt if Roe vs. Wade were overruled. Both candidates failed to say whether they had discussed arrangements for assuming the president’s duties if their running mates were disabled.”
Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times
The right sees Pence as the clear winner.
The right sees Pence as the clear winner.
“Pence was the consistent winner… Harris hung in there gamely for the most part, but looked really bad when she continued to dodge the question of whether Biden will try to pack the Supreme Court if he wins. Any trial lawyer would admire Pence’s handling of her on that matter, I think. Pence was also the clear winner on the economy. Pence effectively lambasted Biden-Harris on the Green New Deal, cleverly citing USA Today, the moderator’s newspaper, for the proposition that the Biden-Harris plan is, essentially, that Deal. Harris’ denials were so unconvincing that even the moderator displayed skepticism.”
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line Blog
“Mr. Pence was most effective in pointing out how far left the Biden-Harris Democrats have moved. With Donald Trump’s personal antics sucking up all the media attention, voters haven’t heard much about Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion in spending over four years on the Green New Deal; the $4 trillion of tax increases that will reach into the working class through higher business and corporate rates; their goal of eliminating fossil fuels that would cost jobs and raise energy prices; and the Biden record on foreign policy that includes opposing the raid on Osama bin Laden…
“VP debates rarely change the course of the election, and the GOP ticket remains far behind. But this clash did show that Mr. Pence is much more than merely a loyal deputy, and that Ms. Harris’s views are much further to the left than Democrats want Americans to know. Mr. Trump has to make the election about the policy contrasts to have any chance of victory, and Mr. Pence showed how to do it.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal
“The big topic of the night was, of course, the novel coronavirus, and Pence had the advantage of his experience leading the administration’s coronavirus task force. He did more in a few minutes Wednesday to rebut criticisms of how the virus has been handled than all other administration officials combined have managed to do in the past eight months…
“After Harris mentioned Biden’s plan to combat the virus, Pence countered that it practically plagiarizes the Trump response. He also noted that the Obama-Biden response to the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 was disastrous, with 60 million infected; that Biden had criticized Trump for closing travel from China soon after the virus began to spread; and that the Trump administration trusts the American people to make good health decisions when presented with the facts. Whatever one’s opinions of those responses, Harris did little to rebut any of them, which scored points for Pence.”
Gary Abernathy, Washington Post
“Vice President Mike Pence could say just about anything — the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody — and make it sound calming, even-tempered, and like plainspoken Midwestern common sense… overall, Pence was remarkably effective, and he does it in a way that seems to lull his opponents into underestimating him. When Pence makes an attack, it either comes across as a gentle jab — ‘it sounds like plagiarism,’ — or he makes it sound like a compliment while subtly reminding the audience of his opponent’s flaws — ‘I salute Joe Biden’s 47 years in public service.’...
“Kamala Harris was herself, with her now-familiar deliberate, polished, theatrical TNT-legal-drama-star persona that has never been my cup of tea. If you liked her before, you probably loved her tonight. If you didn’t like her before, you probably loathed her tonight… Mike Pence had a good night. He had a good night four years ago. But his win over Tim Kaine four years ago wasn’t really a key moment in the story of the 2016 campaign, and his good night tonight probably won’t be a key moment in the story of the 2020 campaign.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review
“Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California still has not Googled President Trump’s publicly available financial disclosure forms — at least, that is the only thing that explains why she suggested Wednesday during the vice presidential debate that we do not know who the president owes money to…
“A comprehensive breakdown of the president’s liabilities can be found in his 2019 public financial disclosure (see page 35), which was released this summer by the Office of Government Ethics. The institutions to which Trump owes a great deal of money include Ladder Capital Finance LLC, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, Amboy Bank, and Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. It is all there. You just need to try a little.”
Becket Adams, Washington Examiner