By STEVE PEOPLES, KATHLEEN RONAYNE, MICHELLE L. PRICE and JILL COLVIN
SALT LAKE CITY — Vice President Mike Pence defended the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 Americans Wednesday night, while his Democratic challenger, Kamala Harris, condemned “the greatest failure of any presidential administration” during a largely civil debate dominated by the coronavirus.
With the virus sweeping through the highest levels of government and Trump just days out of the hospital, Pence acknowledged that “our nation’s gone through a very challenging time this year.”
But he added, “I want the American people to know, from the very first day, President Trump has put the health of America first.” He promised millions of doses of a yet-to-be-announced treatment before the end of the year.
Harris assailed Trump’s consistent downplaying of the pandemic’s threat, insisting she would not take a vaccine if the Republican president endorsed it without the backing of medical professionals.
“Frankly this administration has forfeited their right to reelection based on this,” she charged.
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Less than four weeks before Election Day, Republicans hoped the debate might give the Trump-Pence ticket a final opportunity to help reset a contest that could be slipping away. His poll numbers sagging, the president, with Pence at his side, is struggling to stabilize the nation in the midst of multiple crises as more than a dozen senior officials across the White House, the Pentagon and inside his campaign have been infected by the virus he claimed would disappear.
There were heated exchanges at times, but overall the debate was a far more respectful affair than the opening presidential debate eight days earlier when Trump was the aggressor, butting in and almost yelling. Pence interrupted at times, too, but nothing like Trump had.
The prime-time meeting in Salt Lake City elevated two candidates with presidential aspirations of their own who may be asked to step into the presidency even before the end of the next term. Health questions loom over President Donald Trump, 74, who is recovering from the coronavirus, and 77-year-old Joe Biden, who would be the oldest U.S. president ever.
Republicans desperately want to cast the race as a choice between two candidates fighting to move the country in vastly different directions. Biden and Harris, they say, would pursue a far-left agenda bordering on socialism; the Democrats say Trump’s administration will stoke racial and other divides, torpedo health care for people who aren’t …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Politics