The 2020 VP Debate: Cool Aunt vs. Indiana’s MVP

I imagine the Vice Presidential debate this evening is going to draw a considerably larger audience than in 2016. The stakes are certainly higher! I know exactly where I was and with whom I watched the last Vice Presidential debate. Robert (my wonderful #walkway husband) and I were at home. We had been engaged for 5 months and had known each other for 10 months. We knew where our political leanings stood and how much our pasts differed. This was a big deal. We had just watched Presidential candidate Trump get ‘schooled’ by the Washington, D.C. career swamp queen, Hillary Clinton. It was somewhat expected knowing the decades of experience she had and recently being the denied Democratic Presidential candidate. We were not concerned. Candidate Trump’s policy stance and platform were what we were voting for. We knew what the Trump/Pence administration would look like compared to a Clinton/Kaine administration. Now it was candidate Mike Pence’s turn in the spotlight to deliver the message ‘Make America Great Again.’

Leading into the VP debate in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign found new momentum following her performance, and their team was looking to add to their lead with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. For those that recall the Pence vs Kaine debate in 2016, VP candidate Mike Pence came away the clear and resolute winner. His composure, his ability to duck and pivot when candidate Kaine tried to rattle him, and to clearly state his vision for America gained the confidence of the American people earning votes for the Trump/Pence duo. At that time, the country believed that Clinton could not be trusted and that Trump’s past behavior was condemnable. The nation was torn between these two candidates, but that night, Republicans and swing voters were presented with an undeniable option for what our nation needed. Pence was not Trump’s “apprentice.” He was a leader who was known to be a hard worker and who didn’t need the fame or the glory. He was rightly proud of his accomplishments as the Governor of Indiana, a state where his historical tax cuts led to the Hoosier state’s economic performance being better than the national average, with the GDP growth reaching more than 4% in 2014 before leveling off.  Candidate Pence truly was the best pick for then-candidate Trump in 2016 and he will prove it again in 2020.

The stage has been set and once again it appears that the Trump team has fallen behind the Democratic candidate. For most Americans, polling does not hold the same type of gravitas as it did prior to the 2016 election when the polls were so wrong. Still, those who believe in this administration and who are praying for a second term recognize that VP Pence needs a ‘Win’ tonight. While Kamala Harris is a different style Democrat than the more centrist Tim Kaine, the messaging will be much the same. Predictably Miss Harris will question President Trump’s character, demeanor, and his past statements to double down on the false characterization that the press has painted of this president and his administration. VP Pence with his steady as you go attitude and demeanor will tactfully tout the administration’s accomplishments and lay out the vision for 2020. 

It would seem to be out of character for Pence to challenge Harris on Biden’s questionable past, but given the comments made by Kamala Harris during the Democratic Primary, I expect to see this issue being pressed. After all, it is hard to ignore that Biden was called out for supporting segregation of busing by Harris. Even comedian Stephen Colbert, a staunch liberal, pointed out “such a passionate opponent on such bedrock principles… and now seem to be pals.” I hope that VP Pence forces her to deny or support her infamously stated “it was a debate” comment to the American people. After all, in 2016, it seemed like every question posed to Mike Pence was about something that Donald Trump had said.  

Americans need to hear more about her plan as the second-in-command, and perhaps, as the first female President if something were to happen to a President Biden.  We need to know her stance on criminal justice reform and ask why she thus far she gets a pass given that in her role as Attorney General in California and as District Attorney in San Francisco she locked mostly black and brown people away, many times for non-violent drug offenses which in an interview during the primaries she laughed about using herself!  Further, the over the top costs of her radical ideas on climate change regulation, on “Medicare for All” and open borders must be challenged. 

The press may have set up Senator Harris for failure by only throwing softball questions and allowing her to settle into the role of the “cool aunt.” I don’t need a cool aunt and neither does the country. We need, and deserve, a fierce and talented leader. We need our Vice President to be strong and courageous, and one that does not demand attention or favor. We need another four years of Vice President Pence.