US Election 2020

Vice presidential debate: reactions as it happened

Slick, smooth strategy on both sides, twice as many interruptions from Pence and the vice president's thunder stolen by a fly. Their bosses were both proud.

Vice presidential debate: reactions as it happened
ROBYN BECK ERIC BARADAT AFP

The first and only vice presidential debate was a return to some semblance of normal following the chaos of last week's presidential event. But encumbent vice president Mike Pence couldn't help but talk over both moderator Susan Page and his challengers, Senator Kamala Harris, as they went head to head on live television from Utah.

In a largely civil debate, Kamala Harris stayed calm and composed, smiling knowingly as Pence attempted to interrupt twice as many times as she did.

This was met generally with anger at the moderator for the disparity between the two candidates.

Pence repeatedly spoke far longer than his two minutes, something Harris was granted extra time to compensate for at one stage, and at one point Page had to tell him off.

How did Harris and Pence fare on the key topics?

Both candidates had clearly prepared their sob stories and party lines to the letter, both came across as calm, collected and  avoided answering direct questions when it suited them.

In attempting to defend Trump's record on not condemning white supremacists last week, Pence said that Trump can't possibly racist or anti-semitic, because he has jewish grandchildren, which is a bit like saying you can't be sexist if you have a wife.

As usual, fact checkers all over the internet went wild, among them Vox, backing up Harris's claim that Trump is in serious, looming financial trouble: "President Trump is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, with much of that debt coming due in the next four years."

The California Senator drew on 'honest Abe' Lincoln to illustrate why she believes Republicans should have waited to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg's seat in the Supreme Court, which the internet was thrilled with.

And in a powerful set-piece, Harris laid into Republicans' attack on the Affordable Care act, pleading to the audience through the camera: "If you have a pre-existing condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer -- they're coming for you."

The bosses were both proud with how their sidekicks performed:

And last but not least, a fly stole the whole show.