The admission of President Trump to hospital due to the Coronavirus has highlighted the Vice President’s debate this week to an unusual degree, which has pressured Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris to use this forum to reassure an anxious public that they are ready and qualified to intervene. As president.
Mr Trump’s diagnosis of a deadly virus – and the fact that he is 74 and that his Democratic opponent Joseph Biden Jr., 77 – is a stark reminder that either Mr. Pence or Mrs. Harris could end up becoming president themselves, unlike only the two high-profile contenders for the nomination in 2005. 2024 and onwards.
For Mr. Pence, Wednesday’s debate will likely force him at the expense of the administration’s record over a virus that has now infected 7.4 million Americans – including the nation’s most protected man, Mr. Trump – and the answer to his own administration as president. From the Federal Coronavirus Task Force. For Mrs. Harris, the former attorney general, the debate is an opportunity to demonstrate her ability to be president in a national emergency, and also to demonstrate her ability to challenge Trump’s record on Covid-19 without appearing overly aggressive against the ailing president.
Depending on how quickly Mr. Trump recovers, his condition It may also cancel the remaining two debates between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden. Should this happen, the 90-minute session on Wednesday will be the final debate of this presidential election season, and the last opportunity for both parties to attract a large audience.
This may be especially important to Mr. Trump, who performed in the debate last week Voters turned in some major states Against him.
Raphael J. Sonnenshin, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, said a debate between two candidates in any other year would be little more than an “afterthought”. He said Wednesday’s vice president’s match in Salt Lake City would be markedly different, “given the age and weakness of the two candidates” to run for president.
“The vice president debate could be the only thing that’s going on,” said Mr. Sunshin, who was on a panel of interrogators at Mrs. Harris’ Senate debate in 2016.
There have been some questions about whether Mr. Pence should ever participate, given his exposure to the White House as new positive tests arrive every day. “He was sitting in a sea of people with Covid,” said Dr. Rochelle Wallinsky, an infectious disease expert at Harvard University. “There is no way to go anywhere.”
Jason Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, has rejected the suggestion that Mr. Pence should skip the debate, which will be held at the University of Utah. Mr. Pence has so far tested negative for coronavirus and the two candidates it will be 12 feet, more than the seven feet that was originally suggested.
“I have absolutely no concerns,” said Mr. Miller on NBC “Meet the Press” while discussing Mr. Pence’s safety in the discussion. “We’re on a campaign. We have a month to go. We see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaigning.”
Vice Presidential contests are rarely decisive in presidential elections, especially those dominated by Mr. Trump’s presence at the polls. But this debate is taking place in the midst of a crisis: the hospital president is sick with a virus that has so far claimed more than 200,000 Americans, and a spiral of unanswered questions about the severity of his illness, his prospects, and when – or if – he will be able to get back on track with the campaign. Now a month away from the elections.
Polls since early summer have shown Mr. Trump lagging behind Biden, adding to the significance of these types of events of mass interest.
So far, Mr. Pence and Mrs. Harris have been overshadowed by the rivalry between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden. But it appears that for now, Mr. Pence will become the face of the campaign while remaining its banner-bearer out of public view.
But Mr Pence’s position as Mr Trump could work for the Democrats, according to Jennifer Palmery, senior advisor for the 2016 Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton, and her vice presidential trainer, Senator Tim Kane of Virginia. For the 2016 Vice President debate.
“It’s very difficult for the Biden-Harris ticket to have a good chance of getting a direct message because Trump is consuming so much oxygen,” she said. “They have to make the most of every opportunity.”
Mr. Pence has some advantages. After four years on Mr. Trump’s side, he has close experience with the major politics and political challenges that are bound to emerge on Wednesday, especially with regard to the virus and the economy. Mr. Pence had such a debate in 2016, checking all the funds for Effective No.2: He was a tireless defender of Mr. Trump and a relentless attacker of Mrs. Clinton.
By contrast, Mrs. Harris has only been in Washington since 2017, relegating to the sidelines as a Democrat in the Republican-controlled Senate. She appeared in the debates while running for Senate and Attorney General from California – a much smaller affair against opponents less ambitious and talented than Mr. Pence.
For Mr. Pence, this terrain is very different from what he toured in 2016. Mr. Trump has been surrounded by questions about his handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the extent to which his behavior is endangering himself and others, and now the pandemic has ravaged the White House and some Republican circles.
“It was directly on the table in the presidential debate,” Kane said in an interview. “It will be on the table in the vice president’s debate because it ranks first in everyone’s minds.” Because Pence was asked to take the lead role. And now because the president – who undermined all the science along the way and said it was a hoax or not a big deal – is now diagnosed. “
Mr. Pence will face an extra burden to make the most of the moment, given Mr. Biden’s lead in multiple polls and dwindling opportunities to change course.
Mr. Pence, 61, is a former governor of Indiana who has served 12 years in Congress. Mrs. Harris, 55, served as a California state attorney and San Francisco county attorney prior to her election to the Senate.
The two bring markedly different styles to this debate. Mr. Pence, in his session with Mr. Kane and during a previous debate when he ran for Governor of Indiana, proved that he was calm, disciplined, hard to bother us, and given his easy endurance, he was unexpectedly adept at launching the attack.
“There’s a reason people question Hillary Clinton’s credibility – and it’s because they’re paying attention,” Pence said in his controversial debate (at least by 2016 standards) with Mr. Kane.
He speaks quickly, and rarely leaves space for an opponent to jump into. John D. Podesta, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign head in 2016: “It’s consistent, smooth, and highly structured views.” The broadcast host taught him to be well prepared. It would be against Trump in this debate. It will be the opposite of what I saw last Tuesday. “
“He will come to you,” said Mr. Podesta. “He will come well prepared. He can continue to attack. He will be very modified, Hariri.”
Mrs. Harris has proven to be an extensive and effective communicator as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She raised her tally with the Democrats through her aggressive interrogation of Attorney General William B. bar.
In debate, she can be wilted and methodical, staring at a podium as she scribbles notes while waiting for her turn to speak, before moving on to attack.
“Steve, I think you shouldn’t really underestimate the dignity of this debate or the position we’re seeking,” Mrs. Harris said When Steve Cooley, a Los Angeles County attorney and opponent in the 2010 race for a California attorney general, accused her of failing to seek the death penalty in a murder case as a San Francisco county attorney.
“You will be prepared with specific, tested terms or lines,” said Mr. Cooley in an interview, recalling their meeting in 2010. He said that was on display in the Democratic debates when Mrs. Harris attacked Mr. Biden for his record. Opposing buses.
“It will be well written,” he said. “I don’t think it would do that if it came to an area where its texts are not well written.”
Geoff Weaver, senior advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders, called it a strong debater. He said, “Because of her background in the field of prosecution, she is as skilled at mastering presentation as she does in the courtroom.”
“She is better at attacking,” added Mr. Weaver. “When you’re on the offense, it scores better than defense.”
Even before Mr. Trump was hospitalized, Mrs. Harris said the Vice President’s discussion was fundamentally different from the initial contests because she needed to perfect not only her own record, but also those of Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump and Mr. Penny.
The Trump campaign has long sought to portray Biden as an alternate position to the “radical left” and promote Mrs. Harris, who will be the first black woman to serve as vice president, as the true force in Biden White. a house.
Neil Newhouse, a Republican consultant to polls, said the debate would draw the increased attention of both candidates. But in a campaign of such extraordinary bets, he said the question for voters would be whether Mr. Trump deserves a second term.
“So many things are happening every day and every week at the moment, to the extent that I think the vice president’s discussion will be forgotten by the time Election Day comes,” he said.
Sydney Ember and Donald J. McNeill Jr. contributed to the reporting.