Wednesday’s debate was full of searing attacks on different visions for the U.S.
It might be remembered for the plexiglass, or for the relative tameness, or perhaps not at all given the chaos back in Washington and the frenetic pace of the campaign as a whole.
Or it might be remembered for searing attacks not just on opposing plans but on entirely different portrayals of the past and visions of the near future, amid a pandemic that seldom has felt more urgent.
If the debate felt removed from the wild events of recent days, both candidates still brought emotional heft to the crisis that is clearly defining the presidential race and so much more.
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, said in her first exchange of the night. “They knew what was happening and they didn’t tell you… They knew and they covered it up.”
Vice President Mike Pence responded with a tone less of anger than of disappointment. He laid out an argument where swift action from Trump prevented even more deaths from COVID-19.
“From the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first,” Pence said.
Pence was also quick to suggest that Biden and Harris could risk lives by undermining confidence in a vaccine,