Pence and Harris clash over US coronavirus response
Mike Pence and Kamala Harris clashed over Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Democratic challenger accusing the president of 'the greatest failure' in the history of the office
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People have died.
Vice-President Pence, you were in the front row in a rose garden event 11 days ago, what seems to have been a super-spreader event for senior administration and congressional officials. No social distancing, few masks, and now a cluster of coronavirus cases among those who were there. How can you expect Americans to follow the administration's safety guidelines to protect themselves from Covid, when you at the White House have not been doing so?
Well, the American people have demonstrated over the last eight months that when given the facts they're willing to put the health of their families and their neighbours and people they don't even know first. President Trump and I have great confidence in the American people and their ability to take that information and put it into practice.
Think to have a vaccine, senator, in record time, an unheard of...
If I may say, that rose garden event, been a great deal of speculation about it. My wife Karen and I were there and honoured to be there. Many of the people who were at that event, Susan, actually were tested for coronavirus and it was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly and routinely advise.
The difference here is President Trump and I trust the American people to make choices in the best interest of their health. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris consistently talk about mandates and not just mandates with the coronavirus but a government takeover of healthcare.
Green New Deal. All government control. We're about freedom and respecting the freedom of the American people.
Let's talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth, you respect the American people when you have the courage...
Which we've always done.
To be a leader speaking of those things that you may not want people to hear but they need to hear so they can protect themselves. But this administration stood on information that if you had as a parent, if you had as a worker knowing you didn't have enough money saved up, and now you're standing in a food line because of the ineptitude of an administration that was unwilling to speak the truth to the American people.
So, let's talk about caring about the American people. The American people who've had to sacrifice far too much because of the incompetence of this administration. It is asking too much of the people.
Susan, we talked...
It is asking too much of the people. If they would not be equipped with the information they need to help themselves to protect their parents and their children.
Kamala Harris, Senator Harris, I mean. I'm sorry.
That's fine, I'm Kamala.
No, no. You're Senator Harris to me. But half of Americans now say they wouldn't take a vaccine if it was released now. If the Trump administration approves a vaccine before or after the election, should Americans take it and would you take it?
If the public health professionals, if Dr Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I'm not taking it.
The reality is that we're going to have a vaccine, senator, in record time. An unheard of time in less than a year. We have five companies in phase three clinical trials. And we're right now producing tens of millions of doses. So, the fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconscionable.
And senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people's lives. The reality is that we will have a vaccine, we believe before the end of this year. And it will have the capacity to save countless American lives. And your continuous undermining of confidence in a vaccine is just unacceptable.
And let me also say, you know, the reality is when you talk about failure in this administration, we actually do know what failure looks like in a pandemic. It was 2009, the swine flu arrived in the United States. Thankfully it was ended up not being as lethal as the coronavirus. But before the end of the year, when Joe Biden was vice-president of the United States, not 7 and half million people contracted the swine flu, 60m Americans contracted the swine flu. If the swine flu had been as lethal as the coronavirus in 2009, when Joe Biden was vice-president, we would have lost 2m American lives.