Blue State Blues: The VP Debate Could Decide It All


Though the VP debate is not usually important, it is significant in 2020 because Joe Biden will be 78 years old in January, making Harris the dominant figure in a potential Biden administration.

And news overnight of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis means that Pence is slightly closer to the presidency than usual.

Pence is a solid debater. He doesn’t make too many drastic moves, and he doesn’t make many mistakes. With a talk radio background, and four years in the spotlight with Trump, he will not be easily shaken — nor will he land too many zingers.

All eyes will be on Harris. She has kept a low profile since being nominated to the ticket in August. And with polls showing Biden ahead, there is a real prospect she could be leading the country very soon.

Harris’s past debate performances give some indication as to what she will do, and how she will do.

She excels at set pieces — rehearsed attacks that take advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses.

Last June, at the first primary debate, she attacked Biden for his associations with segregationists and his opposition to busing. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

On defense, though, Harris is very weak. Her campaign essentially collapsed after the second primary debate, when Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) went after Harris’s record as a prosecutor in San Francisco and California.

Gabbard came loaded for bear with facts about Harris’s opposition to new DNA evidence for a death row inmate, and about the thousands of people she sent to jail for marijuana possession — even though she herself admitted later to have smoked marijuana in college.

Pressed to defend her record, Harris tried attacking Gabbard’s inexperience: “I am proud of that work. And I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor, but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform.”

Democratic voters were not impressed with that response, which was too defensive. Harris went downhill from there.

In the Atlanta debate last November, Kamala launched a blistering personal attack on Gabbard: “I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on the stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, who during the Obama administration spent four years, full-time on Fox News criticizing President Obama.”

The Hawaiian parried her easily: “What Senator Harris is doing is unfortunately continuing to traffic in lies and smears and innuendos.”

Harris will be stronger at the VP debate. She has learned, and her career as a prosecutor, a liability in a left-wing Democratic Primary, is an asset before a national electorate.

She can be expected to focus on the coronavirus issue, given Trump’s diagnosis and Pence’s role in leading the COVID-19 task force. Pence can counter that with stories about the bigger picture: ventilators, vaccines, and a rapid economic recovery.

Her most significant weakness is her left-wing record. Not only is she the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, but she has supported every radical policy in recent years.

She joined a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the White House just hours after rioters there had attacked police and journalists — an experience she recalled with pride as she praised the founders of the movement, who are proud revolutionary Marxists.

Both Harris and Pence will try to keep the tone civil, after Tuesday’s presidential brawl. But it will be a tough fight — and one to watch.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.