In Case You Missed It: Week of Oct. 4

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Vice presidential candidates debate in Salt Lake City 

Vice President Mike Pence takes notes as Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., answers a question during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

On Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris of California debated for the first and only time before the Nov. 3 presidential election. 

The event took place at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and was aired live on national television

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Harris, and the incumbent vice president made no physical contact, sat separated by a wall of plexiglass. They debated on issues including leadership in a pandemic, the presidential candidates’ wellbeings, taxes, climate change and the relevance of the Green New Deal, foreign affairs, the Supreme Court and abortion laws and the integrity of the election. 

Susan Page of USA Today was the first print journalist debate moderator in over 40 years. She allowed each candidate an uninterrupted two minutes to respond to her questions and then made her best effort to facilitate healthy discussion between the two. 

“We want a debate that is lively,” she reminded the two candidates at the start of the debate. “But Americans deserve a discussion that is civil.” 

Page allowed the limited audience to applaud the candidates before and after the debate. 

“The audience is enthusiastic about their candidates, but they’ve agreed to express that enthusiasm only twice; at the end of the debate and now, when I introduce the candidates,” Page said before welcoming the candidates to the stage. 

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes a point during the vice presidential debate with Vice President Mike PenceWednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Debate on each topic lasted roughly 10 minutes and the two candidates spoke for almost equal amounts of time. According to CNN, Vice President Pence only spoke for three more seconds than Sen. Harris. 

Early in the debate, Sen. Harris condemned the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and the COVID-19 task force led by Vice President Pence, calling it the “greatest failure of any presidential administration.” 

“Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done clearly hasn’t worked,” Sen. Harris said. 

In response, Vice President Pence expressed empathy for the struggles of the American people in recent months, saying that Americans deserve more credit for the sacrifices they’ve made during the pandemic, and that Sen. Harris’ criticism does a “disservice to what the American people have accomplished.” 

“We’ll get through this together,” the vice president said. 

Sen. Harris then denounced the Trump administration for sitting on information that the American public has “had to sacrifice too much for.” 

“Imagine if you knew what the president knew on Jan. 28, rather than on March 13,” Sen. Harris said to the audience. 

Later, Page mentioned that either candidate would be the vice president to the oldest inaugurated president in American history. When both candidates were asked whether or not they’ve had any conversations with their running mates about their ability to serve, there were no explicit answers. 

Vice President Mike Pence makes a point during the vice presidential debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In attendance were several guests of both candidates and few others. During the debate, audience members were instructed to wear a mask or they would be removed from the event. 

“In Kingsbury Hall tonight, we have a small and socially distant audience,” Page said. “And we have taken extra precautions during this pandemic. Among other things, everyone in the audience is required to wear a face mask and the candidates will be seated 12 feet apart.” 

However, when the debate was over, Second Lady Karen Pence came to her husband’s side on the debate stage with no facial covering. 

After the debate, on Thursday, both vice presidential candidates traveled to campaign events in Arizona. According to KOLD News 13, Vice President Pence and his wife will stop in Nevada before attending a Make America Great Again event in Peoria, Arizona, while Sen. Harris and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden came together for the first time on the campaign trail in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Next week, on Thursday, the presidential candidates are scheduled to debate for the second time in Miami, Florida. According to NPR, the debate’s organizing commission has decided to hold the event virtually “to protect the health and safety of all involved”; however, President Trump has refused to attend a virtual debate, calling it “a waste of time.” Coverage of the vice presidential debate, as well as all three presidential debates can be found on C-SPAN’s debate webpage

President Trump tells Americans not to be afraid 

On Monday, after spending three days at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Donald Trump returned to the White House and told Americans not to be afraid of COVID-19, according to an article from the National Public Radio

Upon returning to the White House, Trump stood at the top of the staircase at the South Portico entrance and removed his mask to salute Marine One, the helicopter that carried him home from Walter Reed. 

In a Twitter video, Trump said “I just left Walter Reed Medical Center, and it’s really something very special — the doctors, the nurses and the first responders — and I learned so much about coronavirus and one thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it.” 

Trump told Americans to “get out there” and “be careful.” “We have the best medicines in the world,” he said. 

Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and first arrived at Walter Reed that evening. The president’s physician said that although Trump may not be “entirely out of the woods yet,” he should be able to continue his “24/7 world-class medical care” from the White House. 

In this Monday, Oct. 5, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump holds his mask after removing it from his face as he stands on the Blue Room Balcony upon returning to the White House in Washington from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He announced he tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Don’t let it take over your lives. Don’t let that happen,” Trump said on Monday night. “We have the greatest country in the world. We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re going to be out front. As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front. I lead. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did, and I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s okay.” 

Several people who attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event where Trump announced his Supreme Court Justice nomination tested positive for COVID-19 last week around the same time as the president and the first lady, including Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and the former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. 

President Trump postpones COVID-19 relief negotiations 

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump pushed off congressional COVID-19 relief package negotiations between Republicans and Democrats until after the November election, according to an article from the Associated Press

On Twitter, the president said that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, “is not negotiating in good faith.” 

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major stimulus bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and small businesses,” Trump said. 

Previously, the president had proposed a $1.6 trillion relief package which was rejected by Pelosi, who insisted on repealing the March $254 billion business tax break as a way to further expand financial aid. 

After the president thwarted negotiations, Pelosi criticized the president for being “unwilling to crush the virus” and for refusing to give “real help to poor children, the unemployed and America’s hardworking families.” 

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