Kamala Harris on Wednesday assailed Donald Trump‘s response to Covid-19 as a failure in a high-stakes debate with Vice President Mike Pence against the backdrop of the president’s own infection.
With Pence first in line for the presidency should Trump be unable to perform his duties, and Harris essentially auditioning to be the Democratic Party’s future leader under a President Joe Biden, their pandemic showdown took on fresh urgency 27 days before the election.
The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Harris, a US senator from California and former prosecutor, said in the first moments of the debate in which the candidates were separated by plexiglass.
Saying Trump treated front-line health personnel as “sacrificial workers,” Harris — pointing to Trump’s own statements to journalist Bob Woodward — accused the White House of not taking action despite knowing the risks of Covid-19.
The president said it was a hoax. They minimized the seriousness of it,” Harris said.
After a raucous debate eight days ago between Trump and Biden, Pence and Harris initially took a more civil tone, with no name-calling, but sharply disagreed on the reaction to the pandemic.
“I want the American people to know, from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first,” Pence said, pointing to his ban on travel from China on January 31, a month after cases first emerged in Wuhan.
Referencing a controversy that tanked Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988, Pence said the Democrats’ Covid plan sounds “a little bit like plagiarism, which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about.
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