Setting the stage for the 2020 vice presidential debate

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - All eyes will be on Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate, Kamala Harris, Wednesday evening for the first and only vice presidential debate.

Harris is the first woman of color to be included on a presidential ticket, and it may prove to be a big factor in the debate, as she prepares to make her case to the American people why she and Joe Biden are better suited to run the United States than the Trump Administration.

After a contentious presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Wednesday’s vice presidential debate is expected to be more traditional. However, South Dakota State University Professor of Political Science David Wiltse says the topics will still be highly contested.

“Undoubtedly, COVID will be front and center, we’ll see economic policy, we might see environmental policy, and certainly questions about racial justice," Wiltse said.

Vice presidential debates don’t typically carry much weight in the polls, but University of South Dakota Political Science Professor David Earnest says this one is important because the health of each candidate has been questioned.

“Voters and viewers tonight will be asking themselves, which of these candidates would I feel comfortable with as president," Earnest said.

For California Senator Kamala Harris, Wiltse says who she is may be as important as what she says on the stage.

“A very good portion of the Democratic electorate, now, is not white," Wiltse said. "And, women are identifying much more strongly with the Democratic Party at the moment.”

Earnest agrees, and adds, the former prosecutor will most likely be on the attack.

“Kamala Harris, the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats, will be quite assertive in highlighting what she considers failures of the Trump Administration," Earnest said.

On the other side, Wiltse says Vice President Pence’s gameplan will be to defend the Trump Administration’s main messages, like economic strength as well as law and order.

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