The official schedule for the upcoming presidential debates was released Wednesday, revealing when and where Joe Biden would square off against Donald Trump as the 2020 election rapidly approaches. But while those two will have three times to go at it, the candidates for vice president won’t get a second chance to make their first impressions.
That means Kamala Harris has just one shot to humble Mike Pence on a national stage. And all indications are that Harris is more than ready to rise to the occasion when they square off in Salt Lake City, Utah, and perhaps flex some of her prosecutorial skills while holding Pence and Trump responsible for what she has described during her keynote address at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last month as a flagrant “failure of leadership” that “has cost lives and livelihoods.”
Pence, of course, is the person who Trump tapped to lead the federal task force to fight the coronavirus, a disease that the administration was quick to denounce as a hoax and extra slow to react to, resulting in more than 182,000 deaths as of Wednesday — by far the most of any country in the world. The U.S. also has the most cases of COVID-19 with over 2 million more diagnoses than the next closest nation.
The pandemic has resulted in record unemployment and heightened awareness of the country’s epidemic of racism, the latter of which Pence has readily co-signed from Trump by defending the president’s so-called “law and order” stance that encourages police to “not be so nice” with suspects that many times turn out to be Black and brown people.
It’s a safe bet that Harris will pounce on those clear (and deadly) shortcomings that are rightfully associated with Pence (who, by the way, remains the same person accused of homophobia and blamed for a preventable AIDS outbreak in Indiana when he was governor).
But aside from the issues and policy, Harris seems to be the clear favorite — at least when it comes to people tuning in to listen to her speak. Based on their addresses at their respective party’s convention, it would appear that the American people are more eager to see Harris, whose DNC speech got a significantly higher viewership than Pence’s at the Republican National Convention held one week later.
RNC Night 3: 10.5 million viewers
DNC Night 3: 16.2 million viewers
Ratings for Kamala Harris received a +54% advantage against Mike Pence.
— Travis Akers (@travisakers) August 27, 2020
All of which has seemingly increased the excitement around and anticipation of Harris facing off against Pence, with their debate scheduled to take place Oct. 7 at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. The vice-presidential debate is set to be moderated by Susan Page, USA TODAY’s Washington bureau chief.
Their debate will take place after Biden and Trump meet Sept. 29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. They are scheduled to debate again on Oct. 15 October 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, and a week later on Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville.
Read more about the presidential debates’ schedule by clicking here.