Gianno Caldwell: Pence-Harris faceoff could be most important VP debate ever

The vice-presidential debate is typically a yawn fest. But on Wednesday night the American people better stay awake when Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, take the stage. This VP debate could be the most important one ever.

Beginning in 1976, the vice-presidential debate has never moved the needle of presidential politics much — let alone carried a campaign to victory. The nation’s focus has always been on the two candidates at the top of the tickets — Republican President Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming election.

If you watched Trump and Biden debate each other last week, you saw a train wreck in which both candidates lacked gravitas. They missed easy questions and spent the night squabbling — confirming many of the biggest concerns of many voters.


Biden was befuddled and lied time after time. He claimed, for example, that he doesn’t support the Green New Deal and other radical left-wing causes. A quick look at his website or a simple Google search shows that is a blatant lie.

Trump failed to denounce white supremacy clearly, despite doing so in the past and recently unveiling his Platinum Plan for Black Americans, which pledges to designate the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist group — something that President Barack Obama never did.

Trump’s debate performance put a bad taste in the mouths of many Americans, including Trump supporters who bemoaned his actions.

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Focus groups and data after the debate suggests some Americans who watched were so turned off by what they saw that they won’t watch another presidential debate this fall. Some Americans say they won’t even vote now.

In 2012, an unprepared President Obama took a shellacking during his first debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Democrats looked to then-Vice President Biden to bolster their campaign. This time around, the Trump campaign is counting on Pence for a strong performance — especially now that President Trump has contracted the coronavirus.

While we pray for our president and first lady to recover quickly, the country remains on edge. Indeed, the stakes are the highest they’ve been in decades. And now President Trump will have to be off the campaign trail during his quarantine right before the most meaningful days of the election.

Strong leadership is essential today amid a pandemic, burning cities, unstable markets, and racial unrest — and strong leadership will be essential over the next four years as well.

There’s a chance that Pence or Harris could serve as president one day. In fact, Biden has called himself a transition candidate whose job is to act as a bridge to a younger generation of Democrats, causing many observers to wonder whether Biden would only be a one-term president or cede much power to his vice president if he defeats Trump.

Harris has also referred to a “Harris administration” should she and Biden win in November. Add concerns that some have raised about potential cognitive issues involving the 77-year-old Biden to the mix and it becomes clear that Harris may be positioned to become a uniquely powerful vice president if Biden wins.

In their upcoming debate, perhaps Pence and Harris can say all the things Trump and Biden were supposed to say, without the self-indulgent bickering.

It should be easy enough for both. Harris is more representative than Biden of the radical, far-left agenda that Democrats have embraced in recent years. And Pence has often been an anchor for the Republican Party and authentic conservatism during Trump’s presidency.


As a conservative, I am proud that Mike Pence can provide a cogent list of conservative accomplishments — such as an upgraded military, a booming economy and record-low unemployment before the coronavirus pandemic, thoughtful judicial nominations, and laws and policies that better support African Americans — plus a long list of future plans should the Trump administration continue for another four years.

Pence has been one of the most consistent voices of conservatism for years. The Wednesday night debate will be a perfect opportunity for him to discuss conservative ideas and ideals.

I expect the left to criticize the Trump administration on the issue of faith — after all, Democrats and the left-wing media just spent a week lambasting Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett for her faith. I implore Pence not to back down on this front, but instead explain why we are a country that worships God over government.


As I discussed with Herschel Walker on the first episode of my new podcast, “Outloud with Gianno Caldwell,” faith has been paramount to the forward movement of millions of Americans, especially during our country’s most trying times.

This year is no different. Faith shall continue to uplift countless lives. If Democrats try to paint Pence into a “religious corner,” I can only hope he thanks them and explains to the American people why he wouldn’t have it any other way.


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