Last night may have been the most important vice presidential debate in our nation’s history, for two reasons.
First, it offered a chance to reset the campaign after last week’s abysmal presidential debate that was widely panned as the worst of all time.
Indeed, last night’s debate succeeded in offering a discussion that was understandable (generally one person talking at a time), more civil and fairly substantive on issues. In succeeding on those levels, it seemed to reinvigorate interest in the campaign and hope in the process.
But it was also a critical debate for a more practical reason: age. Whether Trump or Biden wins, we will have our oldest-serving president come January. Trump’s bout with COVID – though he seems to have come through it well – was a sharp reminder of his elevated age and the associated risks.
And Biden is four years Trump’s senior. His frailty, especially of mind, has been unavoidable.
So it’s hardly a wild notion that, within a couple of years, the leader of the free world could be one of the candidates who was on that stage in Utah.
What then did we learn about them?
Vice President Pence is a fairly known quantity. He is well known for his faithful honoring of his wife and marriage. And his history of supporting pro-life and pro-family causes is well documented. That includes past service on the board of Family Policy Alliance’s longtime allied group in Indiana.
Those who really observed him for the first time last night saw that he is polite, thoughtful and well spoken, even if his answers ran long. Though there wasn’t a heavy focus on social issues, he certainly reiterated his support for school choice and for the sanctity of life. “I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life,” he told the audience, adding “I am pro-life. I don’t apologize for it.”
For Sen. Kamala Harris, however, Wednesday night was by far her biggest stage and broadest exposure to voters. More Americans got to see what political observers have long recognized about her: She’s politically gifted with a penchant for throwing sharp elbows, as she did to Joe Biden during the primaries. Her supporters would call it tenacity; others see it as rudeness.
But while leaders’ behavior matters — just look at last week’s debate — ultimately it’s what they do in regards to policy and personnel that matters most.
Harris’s policy statements last night were socially liberal, to be sure: supporting abortion and declaring that she and Biden “will decriminalize marijuana and expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana.”
That, however, merely touched the surface of her social issues agenda – one that is as radical, or more so, than any member of the U.S. Senate. As I’ve written in more detail, Harris is so extreme on abortion – anything goes – that she wants to pre-emptively stop states from passing new pro-life legislation.
She checks every box, and more, for the LGBT lobby – even pushing to force taxpayers to subsidize so-called “sex-change” surgeries. And on religious freedom, her agenda is simple: limit it.
Last night, we also got to see her dodge repeatedly on the question of whether she would push to pack the Supreme Court with additional liberal justices. Her evasion spoke volumes – and is an eerie indicator of the kind of radicalism that we will face if the Left takes over the White House and U.S. Senate.
Thankfully, voters still have a choice, including a very stark one between Pence and Harris.