December 5, 2020

The biggest moments from the 2020 vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris

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  • Wednesday’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was significantly more civilized than last week’s political horror show between the president and Joe Biden.
  • That said, there were still some standout moments from the vice presidential debate.
  • The highlight of the night was when a fly landed on Pence’s head and remained there for a full two minutes while the internet lost its mind.
  • Pence was widely criticized for repeatedly interrupting and speaking over Harris throughout the debate.
  • He also used a question about the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to pivot to a plagiarism controversy that sank Biden’s 1988 presidential run.
  • Scroll down to catch up on the biggest moments of the night.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Wednesday’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was an exercise in civility compared to last week’s political horror show between President Donald Trump and the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

But there were still some standout moments from the night.

Flygate

The highlight of the debate was when a fly buzzed around and then landed on Pence’s head, remaining there for minutes while the internet collectively lost its mind.

Harris knocks Trump over his debt

From a substantive angle, Harris made waves when she called out the president for paying just $750 in taxes in 2016 and 2017 despite describing himself as being one of the country’s wealthiest people.

She also knocked Trump for being deeply mired in debt, according to his tax filings that were obtained by The New York Times last month.

“We now know Donald Trump owes and is in debt for $400 million — and just so everyone is clear, when we say in debt, it means you owe money to somebody,” Harris said.

Pence references Biden plagiarism controversy

Pence, meanwhile, raised eyebrows when he referenced the plagiarism controversy that sank Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign. He mentioned the snafu after Harris criticized the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When you read the Biden plan it looks an awful lot what President Trump, the task force, and I have been doing. It looks a little bit like plagiarism, something Joe Biden knows a little bit about,” Pence responded.

As Business Insider previously reported, Biden lifted portions of a speech by Neil Kinnock, a United Kingdom Labour MP and Margaret Thatcher challenger. And according to a 1987 article in The New York Times, Biden acknowledged plagiarizing a law review journal for a paper during law school, and asked school administrators not to be expelled. Biden later said he made a mistake in the citation process.

Pence and Harris dodge questions about Trump and Biden’s health

Pence and Harris conspicuously refused to address questions about Biden and Trump’s health

USA Today’s Susan Page, the moderator of Wednesday’s debate, pointed out that regardless of who wins the election, the individual will be the oldest president in US history, with Trump at age 74 and Biden at 77. She then asked Pence and Harris about Trump and Biden’s health, and both debaters refused to give a straight answer.

Pence praised what he characterized as Trump’s “exceptional transparency” about his health following his hospitalization last week for COVID-19. He also touted the Trump administration’s pandemic response.

Harris similarly declined to directly address the question, saying instead that Biden is “forthright” and “honest” about his health and would continue to be transparent about the matter if elected.

Pence repeatedly interrupted and spoke over Harris

Several observers pointed out that Pence repeatedly interrupted and spoke over both Harris and Page.

One of the lines Harris repeated throughout the debate — “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking” — quickly made the rounds on social media. CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell noted, “Our team was following it very closely, and the VP Mike Pence interrupted Sen. Kamala Harris twice as often.”