CPD moves next debate to virtual format, Trump says he won’t participate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
October 8, 2020: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Thursday morning that the second presidential debate will take place virtually. Kamala Harris and Mike Pence debated in Salt Lake City.

Campaign Ad Comparison

DPNB campaign ad comparison feature, 2020 ("Kevin" – Joe Biden)

DPNB campaign ad comparison feature, 2020 ("President Trump's Vision for America" – Donald Trump)

Notable Quote of the Day

“The sharpest and perhaps most important contrast from Wednesday evening: the two parties’ views on the economy and on taxes. On that, Vice President Pence had the upper hand, and it showed. If the race ultimately boils down to pocketbook issues—as it so often does—then Democrats should be careful preemptively popping the champagne corks.”

– David Polyansky, Republican strategist

“Democrats worried about whether Senator Kamala Harris would play prevent defense had their fears alleviated within the first 30 seconds of the debate. Harris showed exactly why Vice President Joe Biden selected her to be his running mate. When pressed on foreign policy, a topic that has tripped up many a nominee, Harris didn’t just appear in command of the issue, she articulated a clear and cogent doctrine that Americans all over the country could understand. She was presidential.

Harris chopped away at the Trump administration with the precision of a surgeon and the bite of a seasoned attorney—all while smiling. The women in my life felt seen on a stage in Salt Lake City. It meant something to them. The Democratic nominee for vice president came for Mike Pence and didn’t miss.

– Michael Starr Hopkins, Democratic strategist

Debate Recap

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence debated in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday night. The candidates discussed the coronavirus pandemic, economy, climate change, China, foreign policy, abortion, healthcare, race, and the election.

Pence spoke for 36.5 minutes, while Harris spoke for 36.4 minutes. Here are highlights for each vice presidential candidate with a focus on policy. The following paraphrased statements were compiled from the transcript of the debate.

  • Harris called Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic the greatest failure of any administration. She said Trump and Pence knew the virus was airborne and deadly in January 2020 and did not provide Americans with the information they needed. She said Biden’s coronavirus plan focused on contact tracing and testing. She said she would take a vaccine if public health officials recommended it.

Harris discussed her career as a state attorney general and senator. She said voters had a right to know about the president’s health and tax records. She said Trump was $400 million in debt. Harris said Biden would repeal Trump’s tax bill and not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. She said Trump rode the coattails of the economic recovery Biden created. She said Biden did not want to end fracking. She said Trump was trying to end the Affordable Care Act and that this would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Harris said the Trump administration does not believe in science. She said Biden would invest in renewable energy and reach net zero emissions by 2050. She said Trump lost the trade war with China and 300,000 manufacturing jobs. She said Biden saved the auto industry. Harris said Trump disbanded the office responsible for monitoring pandemics. She said Trump made America unsafe through a unilateral and isolationist foreign policy. She said Trump insulted and did not care about service members.

Harris said President Lincoln waited until after his re-election to fill a Supreme Court vacancy that occurred 27 days before the presidential election. She said Trump should also wait. She said Trump had not appointed a Black judge to a lifetime appointment on the courts of appeal. Harris said justice was not done in Breonna Taylor’s case and called for criminal justice reform. She said implicit bias existed in law enforcement. Harris said Trump has openly attempted to suppress the vote.

  • Pence said Trump suspended all travel from China in response to the coronavirus pandemic and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. He said he believed the U.S. would have a vaccine before the end of the year. Pence said Trump surged resources to states with high fatality rates. He said the Rose Garden event announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination followed scientific advice. He said Trump trusted Americans to make decisions about their own health.

Pence said Harris was undermining public confidence in a vaccine. He said the Obama administration failed during the swine flu pandemic and were lucky that it was less lethal than COVID-19. Pence said Trump paid millions of dollars in property and payroll taxes. He said Trump had added back 11.6 million jobs since the pandemic began. Pence said Biden wanted to ban fracking. He said the United States reduced CO2 emissions through innovation rather than mandates.

Pence said the United States lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs when Biden was vice president. He said Harris put her environmental agenda ahead of American workers by opposing the United States–Mexico–Canada trade agreement. Pence said Trump strengthened alliances in the Asia Pacific and destroyed the ISIS caliphate. He said Biden failed to save ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller.

Pence questioned whether Harris would give Amy Coney Barrett a fair hearing because of Barrett’s Christian faith. He said he was pro-life. He said the Trump administration stood behind the separation of powers and a nine-seat Supreme Court. Pence said he trusted the justice system in Breonna Taylor’s case. He said there was no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed George Floyd’s death. He said Harris did nothing for criminal justice reform in California. He said Democrats had spent the past three years trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election. Pence said universal mail-in voting created the opportunity for fraud.

Election Updates

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Thursday morning that the second presidential debate will take place virtually. Moderator Steve Scully will conduct the town hall-style event with attendees asking questions in Miami. The candidates would participate remotely.
  • The Joe Biden campaign agreed to the virtual format. Donald Trump said in an interview on Fox Business that he would not participate in a virtual debate. “I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” he said.
  • Biden and Kamala Harris are meeting with American Indian tribal leaders and small business owners in Phoenix on Thursday as part of their “Soul of the Nation” bus tour.
  • Trump is considering returning to the campaign trail with an event in Pennsylvania as early as Monday. Trump’s physician said on Wednesday that Trump’s physical exam and vital signs were stable and in normal range. He said Trump was symptom-free for over 24 hours and had detectable levels of antibodies in his lab work.
  • Trump canceled planned ad buys in Ohio ($2.5 million), Iowa ($820,000), Michigan ($2 million), and Wisconsin ($5 million). He is redirecting ad spending to Florida, Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona.
  • Howie Hawkins’ running mate, Angela Walker, responded to the vice presidential debate on Wednesday.
  • Jo Jorgensen’s running mate, Spike Cohen, also responded to the vice presidential debate in a livestream on Wednesday.

Flashback: October 8, 2016

Outlets reported on the WikiLeaks release of thousands of emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Click here to learn more.