By Albert Traver.
Washington DC, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- The Plexiglas barriers that separated United States Vice-President Mike Pence from his rival, Democratic candidate Kamala Harris, mirrored their political differences, which exploded when addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a clear reflection of the polarization that the country is experiencing less than a month before the presidential elections, Pence and Harris staged a classic debate, with mutual accusations and avoiding answering uncomfortable questions.
It remained a step up from the chaos of last week’s encounter between their leaders, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, which left a general bad taste.
Despite good manners, the Democrat and the Republican collided on most issues, but especially in the pandemic, which has already left more than 210,000 dead in the US and unprecedented economic devastation.
Trump is using the early approval of a future vaccine as an electoral weapon and Harris had the opportunity to address it when asked if he would wear it, given that according to polls 50 percent of Americans have no intention of doing so.
“If Dr. (Anthony) Fauci (the top epidemiologist in the White House), if the doctors tell us we should take it, I will be first in line to put it on, absolutely. If Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I will not,” said the senator for California.
This response from Harris infuriated Pence, who for months has led the White House task force against COVID-19, stating that “I only ask (Democrats) to stop politicking with people’s lives. The reality is that we will have a vaccine, we believe, before the end of the year and it will have the ability to save countless lives of Americans.”
The moderator, Susan Page, a journalist for the USA Today newspaper, upset Pence by questioning him about the act 11 days ago in the Rose Garden of the White House, which seems to be the focus of the contagions in the presidential mansion: “How do you expect that citizens follow the recommendations if you in the White House do not?”
“We are confident,” the vice president said, “that Americans will make the best decisions for their health. We respect freedom.”
Harris then picked up the gauntlet Pence threw at her and accused the Trump administration of hiding information from Americans from the moment in January when they became aware of the dangerousness of the pandemic.
“You respect the American people when you tell them the truth. You respect the American people when you have the courage, of a leader, to talk about those things that you may not want people to hear, but they need to hear in order to protect themselves,” she said.
And she added: “The American people have witnessed the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”
After the controversial pandemic page, both resorted to the script to answer or dodge the questions and what most excited the audience, at least on Twitter, was the fly that landed on Pence’s gray hair for several seconds.
However, Harris, an African-American of Indian origin who was California attorney general, cut the Republican short when he tried to teach her a lesson in racism and justice.
“I am not going to sit here to be lectured by the vice president,” Harris snapped after Pence claimed that Democrats “insult” US police officers when they claim that there is systemic racism in the country.
In addition, in what appeared to be a strategy prepared by Harris, the Democrat took advantage of Pence’s first interruption to claim her right to speak: “I’m speaking.”
“If you don’t mind,” she added, “let me finish. So we can have a conversation.”
This could have been the last debate of the campaign, since the two that remain between Trump and Biden scheduled for Oct. 15 and 22 are at least in doubt due to the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
Trump has already anticipated his intention to participate in next week’s debate in Miami, but Biden has said that he will only do so if the president has overcome the disease, in what already promises to be the electoral battle of the next days in America. EFE-EPA