Tonight, October 7, Vice President Mike Pence will face Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris for the first and only time this election in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Pence, a traditional conservative, is generally much more circumspect in his public remarks than President Donald Trump, and is rarely heard making direct personal attacks on his political opponents. However, the stakes are high for Wednesday’s debates, coming as the president recovers from coronavirus in the White House after a swift release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. A CNN national poll released on Tuesday also indicated that former Vice President Joe Biden has a 16-point lead over Trump among likely voters.
With Trump and Biden’s age and health very much a national concern, it is not outside the realm of possibility that both Harris and Pence might be asked at some point to assume the role of the presidency, so the debate is likely to be more closely watched than previous vice presidential contests.
So, what has Pence had to say about Harris during the campaign? Here’s what you need to know:
In August at a Farmers Event In Iowa, Pence Vowed Not to Let Harris ‘Cut America’s Meat’
In August, Pence visited Des Moines, Iowa, for a Farmers and Ranchers for Trump event, where he seized on a 2019 interview with Harris in which she said that, if elected president, she would support changing dietary guidelines to reduce the amount of red meat recommended for Americans to eat, We Are Iowa reported.
“Senator Kamala Harris said she would change the dietary guidelines of this country to reduce the amount of red meat Americans can eat,” Pence told the crowd, which booed the remark.
“Well, I’ve got some red meat for you. We’re not going to let Kamala Harris and Joe Biden cut America’s meat!”
The line “cut America’s meat” was instantly memed and parodied online, and many Twitter users Wednesday were praying that the meat issue would come up in the vice presidential debate.
On the Campaign Trail, Pence Also Attacked Harris for Voting Against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Trade Deal
In September, on a campaign swing through Wisconsin, Pence also went after Harris for her vote against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has touted as “the largest, fairest, most balanced and modern trade agreement ever achieved.”
Harris was one of 10 senators, including one Republican (Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania), who voted against the trade deal in January, according to Fox Business.
In Wisconsin, Pence said:
Experts tell us the USMCA will create about 600,000 new jobs just right out of the gate, including 50,000 manufacturing jobs. You know, I heard Joe Biden’s running mate is in Milwaukee today. But dairy farmers in Wisconsin deserve to know that Kamala Harris is one of only 10 senators to vote against the USMCA.
They said it didn’t go far enough on climate change, but here at Dairyland Power, you deserve to know. Senator Harris put their radical environmental agenda ahead of Wisconsin dairy and ahead of Wisconsin power, but under President Donald Trump, we will always put Wisconsin farmers, Wisconsin businesses and Wisconsin families first.
In January, Harris said the USMCA “fails to meet the crises of the moment,” by not protecting the environment. “We can do better, and that’s why today I voted no on the USMCA in committee,” she said.
Pence Has Also Claimed That Harris Has Been ‘Irresponsible’ in Expressing Skepticism Over Possible Political Pressure in the Rush to Provide a Coronavirus Vaccine
In early September, Harris responded to reports that the Trump administration was placing tremendous pressure on health officials and scientists to accelerate the development of a vaccine and hopefully salvage his reelection chances. She said she suggested that with the election so close, his word on the safety and efficacy of a vaccine was not to be trusted,
“I would not trust Donald Trump,” Harris said. “I will not take his word for it.”
Pence responded days later, then again on Fox News, calling Harris “irresponsible” for her comments:
It’s very irresponsible for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be calling into question the incredible innovation of our scientists working around the clock to develop vaccines for the American people. They know that there are multiple safeguards in place.
President Trump has made it clear to all our pharmaceutical companies since he brought them into the White House early in the pandemic, telling them, ‘I want you to develop medications, I want you to develop vaccines,’ but he said, ‘No shortcuts.’ We’re cutting no corners, and the American people can be very confident, despite the politics being played by Joe Biden and his running mate.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that new Food and Drug Administration guidelines for vaccine developers had made it “highly unlikely” the cure would be ready for public consumption by Election Day.
Trump responded, calling the FDA’s new guidelines “another political hit job.”
The debate starts tonight at 9 p.m. eastern, and will run for 90 minutes, without commercials. You can find ways to stream the debate live here.
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