The debate between Vice President Mike Pence and his Democrat challenger Kamala Harris was much better than the previous presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, felt Indian-American supporters of both camps.
And, expectedly, both camps felt their side did better in the debate that also elicited quips and memes about — and even Twitter accounts of — a fly that sat on the Vice President’s hair for a couple of minutes.
The 90-minute debate, which was definitely more like debate than the presidential showdown, was held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
It was moderated by Susan Page, USA Today‘s Washington bureau chief. Both Pence and Harris were behind a plexiglass divider, and the debate questions touched both domestic as well as international issues.
Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a Democratic Party supporter who is associated with the Biden campaign, told indica News that he was excited to watch the Indian-American Senator Kamala Harris at the vice presidential debate.
“Harris has the talent and charisma to lead our great nation as our next Vice President,” Bhutoria said. “She has been a leader in the fight for racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice and fighting for the middle class.”
“She will be an incredible Vice President and I know Americans saw that on full display during tonight’s debate,” Bhutoria continued.
“Harris made a strong compelling case in front of the American people and reminded us that, with good governance and respectable leadership, our country’s best days still lie ahead.”
Bhutoria said the Trump administration’s coronavirus response was a failure, and Trump’s coronavirus task force was led by none other than Mike Pence.
At the debate, Harris sought to hammer the Trump administration over its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, calling it “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country.”
Agreeing with Harris, Bhutoria pointed out: “More than 210,000 Americans have died and over 7 million have contracted this disease. Nearly 30 million have filed for unemployment. One in five businesses are at risk of closing. And this administration still doesn’t have a plan.”
KV Kumar, president & CEO of the Indian American International Chamber of Commerce and a Republican, felt Harris, too, did not have a plan.
“When she was asked about Democrat’s plan to deal with coronavirus pandemic if elected, she called Trump’s administration of handling the pandemic the greatest failure, though did not share what they would do differently,” Kumar told indica News.
“Vice President Pence was exceptionally good in communicating the [Trump administration’s] accomplishments and what Biden is not going to do. However, in general both candidates were good,” Kumar said.
“If I have to pick one as to who did best. Pence won. Not because I am a Republican. She was not clear on many issues — on New Green Deal, even California fire or dealing with the coronavirus,” said Kumar.
He, however, welcomed that Harris mentioned two years of free community college for families earning less than $125,000.
“Irrespective of who becomes the President, I think they should reorganize the education system,” Kumar said. “I strongly believe the tuition has to come down drastically, with more online classes.”
Kumar said he was not convinced when Harris questioned Trump’s dealing with Iran or China.
“None of the Presidents stood up against China like President Trump… none of the previous Presidents was prepared to stand up against China,” he said.
During the debate, Kaushik Basu, professor of Economics, Cornell University, and former chief economist of the World Bank, tweeted: “Pence did not do a bad job. But his case was hopeless because he had to defend the indefensible.”
To which, Tunku Varadarajan, former editor of Newsweek Global, replied: “From your perspective, sir. Not from his.”
Neha Dewan, national director of South Asians for Biden, said in a press statement: “Senator Harris provided a devastating rundown of the Trump-Pence administration’s ineptitude in handling the coronavirus, the economy, including with respect to trade wars, and on issues related to foreign policy.”
Harini Krishnan, California co-state director for South Asians for Biden, was quoted as saying: “Senator Harris was a commanding presence on the debate stage tonight, and I am proud to be her supporter.”
She added: “I am also thrilled that Senator Harris acknowledged the historic nature of her candidacy, and spoke about her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, when introducing herself to America.”