Quick Quotes – 2020 Vice Presidential Debate


Kamala Harris and Mike Pence at the Vice Presidential debate with moderator Susan Page (photo by Patrick Semansky, NBC News)

By Lena Tinker, Editorial Editor

A committee member opened the Oct.7 Vice Presidential debate by reminding us that it will be one of the most consequential in history, as both Vice President elects stand a chance at becoming President of the United States. They both stand the chance to make history for being Vice President to the oldest American president. Kamala Harris is running with a man who will turn 78 this year, and Mike Pence with a man who just contracted a deadly disease. 

As the evening of the seventh dawned, a socially distanced audience gathered with facial coverings in Utah at Kingsbury Hall to listen into the debate. The audience was allowed to cheer only twice throughout the evening in order to monitor air travel of the pandemic that is keeping Americans at home and out of schools and workplaces across the country.

Moderator Susan Page began the debate with questions about Covid-19, and the debating commenced on much more civil terms than the Sept. 29 Presidential debate. Page led the candidates through topics which ranged from climate change to the economic impact of Covid-19, and then to the implications of running with an elderly candidate.

Throughout the debate, Harris continuously would say upon an interruption, “I am speaking.” She asserted her ground during interruptions, and once said, “If you don’t mind letting me finish, then we can have a conversation.” 

Now we will have a conversation of our own. Many high school students enjoy watching or listening to the debates, but here are 13 takes on the debate by the next generation of voters, Cleveland High School seniors. 

  • “I think that there was lots of diversion of the questions on both sides and they seemed to focus on past storylines rather than plans for their candidacy.” (Kaelan Anderson)
  • “As much as I take issue with some of Senator Harris’s past policies, I found her presence at the debate to be wonderfully powerful and full of clarity. I especially liked how she refused to lose her time to Vice President Pence’s lackluster deflections.” (Lana Perice)
  • “In a sentence I’d say that Kamala looked very alive and poured great strength and emotion into her words, while Pence was also there.” (Liam Anthony)
  • “They both dodged questions, behaved somewhat immaturely, and kept talking over the moderator, but who performed better is an obvious choice (and it ain’t fly-head).” (Michaela Cheechov)
  • “I was really inspired by Kamala Harris, and how she used her time to really speak to the people watching and connect with them by talking about issues that affect us deeply. I also appreciated that the debate was much more civil than the last one, and even though Pence did interrupt Kamala a lot and go overtime, she hit all of her points and did it in a really powerful way, which gave me hope that people who are undecided right now might have a change in heart.” (Tessa Lignore)
  • “Once again, the moderator could not get a grasp on the blatant lying and interrupting from the Trump-Pence camp. However, Kamala did an extraordinary job standing her ground and speaking to the American People.” (Eli Kruger)
  • “I thought that it was much more civil than the presidential debate although there were points where the candidates (Pence) talked beyond their time limits. It really bothered me how he constantly avoided the questions and tried to take stabs at Harris on false claims. I thought Harris had good points and kept very calm despite so many interruptions.” (Katherine Jamison) 
  • “I enjoyed watching the VP debate much more than the first presidential one, partly because it was less embarrassing and also because it felt more like a real debate.” (Simon Zlatnik)
  • “I was really impressed by how Kamala responded to the questions and how she actually talked about her and Biden’s policies. I also think pence didn’t really touch on any of his and Trumps policies and just confirmed what people already think and know about their administration.” (Piper Gillen)
  • “The VP debate was quite frustrating to watch. Both candidates evaded answering the questions presented, and casually discussed policies that will impact millions of lives. The current state of things makes it very easy to lose faith in electoral politics.” (Lilly Mearsheimer) 
  • “I watched a bit of it, enough to see the fly on Pence and hear them not answer the question very often.” (Andrew Rehmann)
  • “Every time I’m disappointed by these debates. They focus so little on the substantive parts of each issue, and instead just make jabs at one another.” (Yena Perice)
  • “I thought that it was relieving to see that the vice presidential debate was relatively civil, even with such opposing opinions and positions. It was refreshing to see Harris stick up for herself when interrupted, by calmly stating that she was speaking.” (Olivia Walsh)