Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence will face off at the only Vice Presidential debate tonight in Salt Lake City, Utah. Joe Biden and Donald Trump had a contentious first debate on September 29, 2020. Trump sparred with his opponent and with the moderator, Chris Wallace. During the 98 minutes the candidates were on stage, according to a Fox News analysis, Trump interrupted Biden and Wallace for a total of 145 times. The President tried to distract, deflect, and interject. Because of the constant interruptions, Biden was unable to elaborate his policies and the viewers to the debate could not hear what each candidate would do as the next president. The purpose of the debates is to educate the voters on the respective party’s agenda. Because of the behavior of the President, the American public could not gain any insight.
The stakes are high for tonight’s Vice Presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence. President Trump has Covid-19 and it is too early to tell whether he will be disease-free for the next Presidental debate scheduled for October 15, 2020. The Vice Presidential debate may turn out to be the only one before the election in November.
Mike Pence is mild-mannered and Kamala Harris has a reputation for being a skilled prosecutor. Susan Page, the moderator is a veteran journalist and is USA TODAY’s Washington Bureau chief. The moderator has chosen nine issues to be discussed and she will decide what questions to ask of the candidates. Voters could expect the two politicians to discuss substantive issues unless things turn combative and ugly like the debate between Trump and Biden.
Susan Page has not made public the topics she has chosen. I am a political junkie who has watched almost all Presidential and Vice Presidential debates in the last 35 years and follows politics keenly. These are the major topics I like to hear discussed.
- Coronavirus pandemic Trump-Pence administration’s disastrous response has resulted in 7.5 million cumulative cases including the President and 211,000 deaths. Mike Pence is the head of the White House Coronavirus task force and I like to hear how he responds to the questions from the moderator and Sen. Harris
- Affordable Care Act A Texas-led lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court in November 2020. The Trump administration has not come up with a replacement plan in case the Act is struck down.
- Judge Amy Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court Kamala Harris is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and she will be present at the confirmation hearings. As a woman, she should be concerned about the future of Roe v. Wade and the possibility that the 1973 law that affirmed the legality of a woman’s right to abortion may be overturned if Judge Barrett is confirmed as a Justice of the Apex Court. I am very interested to hear how the two candidates will handle the issue.
- Racial unrest and systemic racism The killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer ignited racial unrest and reenergized the Black Lives Movement. Counter protests by right-wing terrorist groups have led to more violence. As an African American woman, I expect Kamala Harris to engage Mike Pence to the actions taken by the Trump administration to send federal forces to a number of cities.
- Immigration I am an Indian American who came to this country years ago to attend graduate school, just like Kamala Harris’ mother who came to the U.S. as a student. Her father too was an immigrant from Jamaica. On the pretext of a national emergency because of the pandemic, the Trump administration has curtailed the approval of H1-B visas and immigrant visas. I am very interested to hear the views of a future Biden-Harris administration.
- Student loan As a University professor and as a parent of two children, I know that many students and parents default on the loan payments. I like to hear the plans of the Biden-Harris administration to alleviate this burden.
- Environment The Trump administration has systematically repealed or deregulated several long-standing clean air, clean water, and fuel efficiency standards. As a chemist, I am appalled at the anti-science and corporate-friendly policies of the current government. I am looking forward to hearing a discussion on this topic.
- Climate change A question on climate change was asked to the presidential candidates at their first debate in Cleveland. Trump still denied the impacts of global warming; Biden outlined specific aspects of his plan — including his ambitions to retrofit 4 million buildings in his first term and achieve carbon-free electricity by 2035. As a scientist, I believe climate change is real and our planet is in real danger of its catastrophic effects. I would like the Vice President to be questioned about this important issue.
I will be tuning in to watch the debate which I expect to be more civil than the one that took place in my city eight days ago. I like to see several of my issues get airtime. I hope to report my take on the debate in a day or two. Happy watching.