Sen. Kamala Harris opened the vice presidential debate against Vice President Mike Pence by saying the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus is the “greatest failure of any presidential administration in our history.”
“This administration has forfeited their right to re-election,” she said.
Mr. Pence pushed back, arguing the Trump administration’s China travel ban helped buy the nation time and saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
“Joe Biden opposed that decision, he said it was xenophobic and hysterical,” Mr. Pence said. “The reality is when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force has been doing every step of the way,” he said.
Ms. Harris countered that the growing death toll shows that the administration’s response “has not worked” and accused the administration of trying to downplay the threat of the virus.
“They knew and they covered it up, the president said it was a hoax,” she said. “They minimized the seriousness of it.”
The exchange was a reminder of how the coronavirus has defined the 2020 presidential campaign.
Mr. Trump’s diagnosis with the coronavirus last week has put an even greater emphasis on the virus.
Mr. Pence is chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
He and Ms. Harris sat 12 feet apart on the debate stage and were separated by plexiglass.
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