Show an ad over header. AMP

"Was justice done?": A Pence-Harris debate question that showcased America's deep divisions

Moderator Susan Page of USA Today asked an identically worded question to both candidates in Wednesday night's vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City: "In the case of Breonna Taylor was justice done?"

Why it matters: The answers vividly capturedour two Americas.


"I don’t believe so," said Sen. Kamala Harris, 55, adding that she has talked with the mother of Taylor, a 26-year-old who was shot and killed by Louisville police in March when they broke into her apartment while executing a warrant.

  • In one of the night's most memorable moments, Harris said: "I'm a former career prosecutor. I know what I’m talking about. Bad cops are bad for good cops."
  • Harris described this year's racial-justice demonstrations: "I was a part of those peaceful protests. ... We are never going to condone violence. But we always must fight for the values that we hold dear."

"[O]ur heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life, and the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies," said Vice President Pence, 61. "But I trust our justice system."

  • Addressing Harris, a former California attorney general, Pence said: "[I]t really is remarkable that, as a former prosecutor, you would assume that an empaneled grand jury, looking at all the evidence, got it wrong."
  • "There was no excuse for what happened to George Floyd," Pence added. "And justice will be served. But there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed."

Pence deployed one of the night's roughest lines while defending the administration's coronavirus response:

Quite frankly, when I look at [the Biden-Harris] plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new PPE, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism — which is something Joe Biden knows a little bit about.

Harris smiled and shook her head.

  • "Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done," Harris replied, "clearly it hasn’t worked when you’re looking at over 210,000 dead bodies in our country."

What we're hearing, via Axios' Jonathan Swan: The Republican aides I’ve texted with tonight aren’t trying to argue that Pence’s performance altered the course of the race in any way.

  • They know that the president makes every news cycle about himself, thus entrenching this election as referendum on Trump — which is exactly how Biden likes it. And no amount of TV ads or normal-sounding GOP attack lines from Pence can change that.  

Go deeper: VP debate brings back normal politics

Reporting was contributed by Stef Kight, Alexi McCammond, David Nather, Hans Nichols and Alayna Treene.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

Keep reading... Show less

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela despite tight security

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

Keep reading... Show less

Obama: The rest of us have to live with the consequences of what Trump's done

Campaigning for Joe Biden at a car rally in Miami on Saturday, Barack Obama railed against President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "the rest of us have to live with the consequences of what he's done."

Driving the news: With less than two weeks before the election, the Biden campaign is drawing on the former president's popularity with Democrats to drive turnout and motivate voters.

Keep reading... Show less

Murkowski says she'll vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that she'll vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite her opposition to the process that's recently transpired.

The big picture: Murkowski's decision leaves Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the only Republican expected to vote against Barrett.

Keep reading... Show less

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

Keep reading... Show less

The murder hornets are here

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

Keep reading... Show less

SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories