Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is gearing up for Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate, but Democrats say her strategy involves placing less emphasis on Vice President Mike Pence and more on President Trump and his “failures,” specifically.
According to Democrats “familiar” with Harris’s planning, the California senator plans to make President Trump her number one target Wednesday night as she debates the vice president at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
“Even though it is a vice presidential debate, the debate is about Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” a Biden campaign aide said, according to CNN. “And it is all about making the case for why we need Joe Biden in this moment and why Donald Trump has failed.”
The outlet cited further sources which said Harris is bracing for Pence to tap into her record as California’s attorney general and expose her far-left positions — something the Biden campaign has seemingly tried to dismiss over the last few weeks. During the first presidential debate, Biden famously alienated “Bernie bros” after stating that he did not support the Green New Deal and rejecting Medicare for All. His remarks prompted Trump to declare that Biden “lost the left”:
Karen Dunn, a longtime Democratic operative who has focused on debates, is leading Harris’ preparations, and is joined by longtime Harris aide Rohini Kosoglu, top Biden aide Anita Dunn, Harris spokeswoman Liz Allen and Biden aide Symone Sanders, said a source familiar with the preparations. Ron Klain, the Democratic operative who prepared Biden, is involved in the debate sessions but not in the room, the source added.
Harris’ team sees Pence as a polar opposite debater to Trump, who showed his anger and frustration frequently on the debate stage with Biden in September. Pence, said the sources, is far “smoother” and more controlled than the President, rarely letting his emotion show or flashing any anger at a question or an attack.
Other sources told the outlet that Harris will aim to make a greater pitch on how a Biden-Harris administration is better suited to handle urgent issues, such as the coronavirus pandemic. She will also reportedly “avoid relying on prepared zingers to create moments with other candidates” as she frequently did in the Democrat primary debates.
“We’re very cognizant that Pence can’t run from Trump’s record,” an advisor to Biden’s campaign said, according to Politico. “This debate isn’t even about him. It’s about their failed record.”
Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, will serve as the moderator for the debate, which is slated to kick off Wednesday evening, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.