During one telling section of the sole vice presidential debate held Oct.7, Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden's Democratic running-mate, Kamala Harris, discussed the Supreme Court nomination, abortion rights, and healthcare. On one side, Mr. Pence told viewers clearly, "I'm pro life. I don't apologize for it," while Harris described herself as an advocate for a woman's right to decide.
The debate was moderated by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today, and featured plenty of avoided questions. Pence's cool and disciplined debate-style contrasted with the unrestrained argumentation of Trump seen in the first presidential debate. Kamala Harris, the first black woman to be a major party's vice presidential nominee, showcased the oratory skills that have propelled her to the top of the Democratic party.
When asked about the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, Pence spoke confidently about Judge Barrett's abilities and said, "we hope she gets a fair hearing, and we particularly hope that we don't see the type of attacks on her Christian faith that we saw before," referring to the fiery hearing for Judge Barrett's confirmation to an Indiana federal appeals court in 2017. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) notably told Judge Barrett then, "the dogma lives within you." Pence additionally charged Harris with discriminating as a Senate Judiciary Committee member against a nominee for his involvement in the Knights of Columbus, who hold pro-life views.
Senator Harris, as a former Attorney General of California, was then asked about what she would want California to do "if Roe v. Wade is overturned." Harris first responded to Pence's previous comments, saying "Joe Biden and I are both people of faith, and it's insulting to suggest that we would knock anyone for their faith" and also noted that Biden would be only the second Catholic President of the United States. She also addressed the confirmation hearing of Judge Barrett, which is now ongoing. "People are in the process of voting now. Let the American people fill that seat in the White House, then we'll fill the spot seat on the United States Supreme Court," Harris argued.
Harris also mentioned her support of abortion, about the question about Roe v. Wade, saying that she would always fight for "women's right to make a decision for her own body."
Finally, Harris condemned the Trump administration for fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), attempting to contrast Trump and Biden on an issue where Trump's stance is unpopular with most Americans. "They're trying to get rid of the ACA. Joe Biden is saying let's expand coverage, let's give you a choice of a public option or private coverage," the Democratic candidate said.
The moderator then asked Vice President Pence, "specifically how would your administration protect Americans with pre-existing conditions to have access to affordable insurance if the ACA is struck down?"
Pence turned the topic back to abortion, saying "I couldnt be more proud to serve as vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. I'm pro-life. I don't apologize for it."
"There's such a dramatic contrast. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support tax-payer funding of abortion all the way up to the moment of birth," the vice president continued. "Late term abortion. They want to increase funding to Planned Parenthood of America."
Pence promised to fight for the right to life, and turned the topic back to the Supreme Court, asking Harris if she and Joe Biden plan to pack the court.
"I think the American people really deserve an answer, Senator Harris. Are you and Joe Biden going to pack the court if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed?" asked Vice President Pence.
Harris responded, avoiding the direct question from Pence, "Joe and I are very clear. The American People are voting right now and it should be their decision about who will serve on this most important body for a lifetime."
Pence quickly responded, "People are voting right now...they'd like to know if you'd pack the supreme court if you don't get your way on this nomination," adding that the people want a "straight answer" from the Biden campaign.
Both Pence and Harris often diverted their answers from the question, but this sequence of answers from the two showed clearly what they believe about abortion.