Kamala Harris Hasn't Been Shy About Criticizing Mike Pence
As soon as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) was announced as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 presidential election, it was quickly followed by discussion of the vice presidential debate. Harris has earned a reputation for asking tough questions during Senate hearings, and people began to wonder how this style would translate to a moderated debate with Vice President Mike Pence. The respective running mates will face off in the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 7, and these Kamala Harris quotes about Mike Pence show the California senator won’t hold back.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate on Aug. 11, and Pence didn’t waste any time making his feelings known. During an Aug. 12 Fox News interview, Pence called Harris a "skilled debater" but said he can't wait to compare her and Biden's track records "with the results of this president and this administration."
Ahead of their scheduled debate at the University of Utah on Oct. 7, you can take a look at what Harris has said about her Republican counterpart. If her debate performance echoes these sentiments, there are sure to be some tense moments.
Trump Administration's Coronavirus Response
During her first official appearance as Biden’s vice-presidential pick in Wilmington, Delaware, on Aug. 12, Harris laid into the Trump administration's coronavirus response.
"The case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut," she said. "Just look where they’ve gotten us: More than 16 million out of work. Millions of kids who cannot go back to school ... and tragically, more than 165,000 lives that have been cut short, many with loved ones who never got the chance to say goodbye. It didn’t have to be this way."
As of Oct. 2, the U.S. has reported more than 7.4 million COVID-19 cases and 210,000 coronavirus deaths.
Pence's Anti-LGBTQ Track Record
During a March 2019 MSNBC interview, Harris made it clear she does not support Pence's stance on the LGBTQ community in any form.
"I disagree with most of what the vice president stands for when he makes decisions about our LGBTQ community in a way that doesn’t understand that they should be entitled to full equality and all rights under the law as any other American," she said at the time.
Pence's track record on LGBTQ rights includes the then- Indiana governor's 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which many critics argued could be used as an excuse to discriminate against the gay community. (He later signed an amendment to the RFRA to help protect LGBTQ rights.) Pence, who's called himself a "Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," also defended his wife for teaching at a school that doesn't allow gay students or employees to attend, saying, "We will always defend the freedom of religion of every American of every faith, so help us God."
Pence On Limiting 1-On-1 Meetings With Women
During the same March 2019 MSNBC interview, Harris said she found it problematic when Pence told The Hill in 2002 that he wouldn’t eat alone with a woman other than his wife. Harris said the comments, which drew backlash from many including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, would prevent women from having one-on-one meetings with an important political figure.
"I disagree with him when he suggests it’s not possible to have meetings with women alone by himself," she said in 2019. "I think that’s ridiculous — the idea that you would deny a professional woman the opportunity to have a meeting with the vice president of the United States is outrageous."
At the time, Pence's spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tweeted, "He’s elevated women to positions of leadership throughout his career & relies on their advice & counsel," adding that Harris should "get [her] facts straight."
For his part, the vice president has since addressed the controversial interview with a more lighthearted approach. During a March 2017 speech in Columbus, Ohio, Pence joked, "Speaking of my wife Karen, she's really sorry she couldn't be with us today, she already had dinner plans."
Questions About Pence’s Responsibility During Impeachment
Pence has come under scrutiny for his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in September 2019 and the delay in almost $400 million in U.S. military assistance, which was thought to be tied to the president's request for the foreign government to investigate Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. Diplomat Gordon Sondland, who said he told Zelensky the United States could unfreeze the aid money if they investigated a Ukrainian energy company Hunter worked for, reportedly also told Pence about his concerns of "quid pro quo" — a claim Pence has denied.
Pence has claimed he had no knowledge of President Trump's involvement in Ukraine, which eventually led to the president's impeachment in December 2019. Harris called him out for "[hiding] behind the president" on the matter.
In October 2019, Harris said, "There's no question that Mike Pence as the vice president — who clearly was in the zone of, and in the area of, a lot of what's been described as extreme misconduct — should testify before the United States Congress."
Following Gordon Sondland's testimony that "everyone was in the loop" in November, she pushed back on Pence's claims that he was "not aware of the allegations that U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations at any point before those matters became public in September."
During a Nov. 21 appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Harris said, "You can't hide behind the president on this. You can't prance around talking about being vice president with all the benefits that come with that, and not take the responsibility that comes with that position.”
Not Pence's Biggest Fan
During an April 2018 appearance on the Ellen show, Harris didn't hold back when asked if she would rather be stuck in an elevator with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, or then-United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In response, she laughed, quipping, "Does one of us have to come out alive?" While the joke seemed to be in good fun, it also seemed to imply she wasn't the biggest fan of the vice president.
Judging from the pair's not-so-complimentary comments about each other over the years, it looks like viewers can expect a pretty intense debate once these two vice presidential hopefuls square off.