US election 2020: Harris v Pence debate in pictures


It was billed as the "most important vice-presidential debate in history".

US Vice-President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger Kamala Harris took to the stage for a 90-minute debate in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday.

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The debate was moderated by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today.

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Coronavirus safety measures were stepped up following the recent presidential debate, with plexiglass dividers in place between the two candidates.

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And Harris and Pence were placed 12ft (3.6m) apart from one another.

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Guests and candidates were tested for Covid-19 beforehand and anyone who refused to wear a mask was told by the organisers, the Commission on Presidential Debates, that they would be "escorted out".

This followed concern after the first presidential debate when several members of Donald Trump's family sat in the audience without a mask.

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Harris is the first black and Asian-American woman on a presidential ticket.

She has been a senator in California since 2017 and is a former prosecutor and state attorney general.

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In picking veteran politician Mike Pence as his vice-president in 2016, Mr Trump was seen to have opted for a safe choice who could help secure him the evangelical Christian vote.

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Joe Biden, Mr Trump's Democratic challenger for the presidency, has led most national polls since the beginning of the year.

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The first question in the debate was on coronavirus - to date, 210,000 Americans have died from Covid-19.

Mr Pence is in charge of the presidential task force on the pandemic.

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Directly addressing the audience, Senator Harris accused the Trump administration of knowing what would happen with the health crisis: "They knew and they covered it up."

"They minimised the seriousness of it," she said.

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Moderator Susan Page asked why the death toll as a percentage of the US population is higher than nearly any nation on earth - and twice that of neighbouring Canada.

"From the very first day Donald Trump has put the health of Americans first," Mr Pence said.

Mr Trump, he said, "did what no other president had ever done - suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world".

The US did issue a travel ban on China, however, thousands of people were exempt.

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Susan Page pointed out to each candidate that they would each be the vice-president to the oldest US president in history.

The moderator asked them whether candidates should release their health records.

Senator Harris said she supported transparency of medical records - as well as tax records.

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Ms Harris pointed to recent reports in the New York Times which said the president had paid little to no tax over the past two decades.

Mr Pence said those reports were untrue.

Then, during the debate, a fly landed on Mr Pence's head and quickly found stardom on social media.

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A Twitter page dedicated to the fly amassed thousands of followers.

Joe Biden then tweeted a picture asking for a political donation which could "help this campaign fly".

The debate moved on to the topic of climate change. Mr Pence said he was proud of the administration's record on the environment and conservation.

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But Senator Harris pointed out that her home state of California was burning due to wildfires.

"We have seen a pattern with this administration and that is they don't believe in science," she said.

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The debate moved on to criminal justice and race issues.

When discussing Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March, Ms Harris said her life was taken "unjustifiably, tragically, violently".

Vice-President Pence said there was no excuse for rioting and looting amid protests against racism.

He pushed back against the idea that America is a racist country.

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The final question was on the election itself.

On the election, Ms Harris said: "Vote! Please! Vote early! Come up with a plan to vote... We have it within our power in these next 27 days" to change the next four years.

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Mr Pence said: "First and foremost I think we're gonna win this election".

He was asked what his role would be in the event that President Trump refused to accept a loss in November.

"When you talk about accepting the outcome of the election, I must tell you, your party has spent the last three and half years trying to overturn the results of the last election," he said to Ms Harris.

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At the end of the only vice-presidential debate of 2020, the candidates were joined on stage by their spouses.

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