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Four Tuesdays to Go: Strategies, Tactics and What to Look For in the High-Stakes Veep Debate


The coronavirus has reclaimed center stage in the presidential campaign, as Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic veep nominee Kamala Harris prepare to face off in a prime time debate from Salt Lake City tomorrow night (6-7:30pm PDT, Wed. Oct 7).


Donald Trump's hospitalization for Covid -- and his ongoing, bizarre attempts to spin it for political advantage, not only set up the pandemic as the central issue in the only face-to-face meeting between Pence and Harris, but also raise the stakes beyond an ordinary vice-president event, typically an afterthought undercard affair on the campaign calendar..


At first glance, this gives the California Senator an apparent strategic advantage over Pence, because the Democrats and Presidential nominee Joe Biden would prefer nothing more than to have the election defined by the Administration's mismanagement of the crisis. But Trump's illness - despite his Don Peron-like efforts to portray himself as its conqueror - requires Harris to walk a fine line, aggressively criticizing the vice president over policy mistakes while avoiding personal attacks that could appear insensitive or as piling on.


Pence, who has been in charge of the White House task force on the virus, for his part can be expected to offer a stubborn defense of its performance, while trying to pivot politically, and define Harris as emblematic of a Democratic Party that is moving towards socialism and, among other things, wants to take away personal freedoms and undercut federalism in the name of responding to the pandemic. He too must be cautious, however, to avoid appearing like a bully in facing the first woman of color ever on a major party's national ticket.


In a special episode of Newsmakers TV, Phil Trounstine and Jerry, co-founders of the venerable state politics website Calbuzz.com, provide a preview of the vice-presidential debate, forecasting anticipated lines of attack, strategy and tactics, and how it may impact the final four weeks of the campaign.


Long-ago competitors on the California political beat, the Calbuzzards have covered Harris for 20 years, first as a player in San Francisco local politics and later as state attorney general, and also discuss her political vulnerabilities and how she may respond to the very high expectations placed on her going into the debate.


It's all here, right now on Newsmakers TV...and the podcast version is here.


JR




Lead image: Al Jazeera.com

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Newsmakers With Jerry Roberts
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