The coronavirus pandemic was the first topic at the vice presidential debate.
In Salt Lake City on Wednesday, separated from Vice President Mike Pence by plexiglass barriers, California Sen. Kamala Harris called the Trump administration’s response to the growing pandemic “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”
Speaking directly to the camera, as Democratic nominee Joe Biden did in his first debate with President Donald Trump, Harris said, “They knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you.”
In response, Vice President Mike Pence commended Trump’s decision to shut off travel from China, saying the decision “bought us invaluable time” to coordinate the country’s response to the pandemic. But Trump’s move only cut off some travel from China, and tens of thousands were still allowed to pour into the country.
Harris is leaving it as an open question whether she would take a COVID-19 vaccine if one is approved while Trump is in office.
Harris was asked if Americans should take the vaccine and if she would. Harris says that if doctors “tells us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”
Pence said there will be a vaccine produced in record time. He says, “I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives.”
He said that undermining confidence in a vaccine is unacceptable.
Former Food and Drug Administration officials have warned that public perception that a vaccine being rushed out for political reasons could derail efforts to vaccinate millions of Americans.
More than 210,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. Trump is recovering at the White House from his own infection.