Pence, Harris clash over pandemic response in vice presidential debate

Source: Xinhua Published: 2020/10/8 15:10:00

Mike Pence Photo: Xinhua

US Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, clashed on Wednesday over White House's response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 210,000 Americans.

"The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country," said Harris in response to the moderator's first question over the pandemic in the vice presidential debate at the University of Utah.

The 55-year-old California senator, daughter of an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father, accused President Donald Trump of covering up the seriousness of the virus as far back as January.

"Here's the thing. On Jan. 28th, the vice president and the president were informed of the nature of this pandemic," said Harris, looking directly at the camera.

"They knew what was happening, and they didn't tell you," she said. "Can you imagine if you knew on Jan. 28th, as opposed to March 13th, what they knew, what you might have done to prepare? They knew and they covered it up."

Kamala Harris Photo: AFP

Pence, 61, head of the White House coronavirus task force, defended the Trump administration while acknowledging that "our nation's gone through a very challenging time this year."

The former Indiana governor said that millions of lives could have been cost without the president's actions.

"I want the American people to know, from the very first day, President Trump has put the health of America first," said Pence.

Due to the coronavirus concerns, the two candidates were about 12 feet apart on the stage and were separated by two Plexiglas barriers. Before the debate kicked off, attendees received a stern warning about keeping their masks on during the proceedings.

The first and only vice-presidential debate came as the White House is grappling with a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected a growing number of individuals, including Trump.


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