Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) will face off against Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday in perhaps the most consequential VP debate in American history. It's possible that one of them could end up being sworn in as president in January 2021.
President Donald Trump recently waged a historically successful campaign to defeat the coronavirus inside of his own body. Joe Biden's old age and cognitive deficiencies are well documented, but he lacks critical firsthand experience with the Chinese virus that has ravaged the globe. As a result, the VP candidates are actually somewhat relevant this year, and both campaigns are pulling out all the stops.
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The Trump campaign is leaving a ticket for Tupac Shakur at tonight’s VP debate because Kamala Harris called him her favorite rapper alive
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) October 7, 2020
Harris comes into the debate on Wednesday fresh off a failed campaign for president in which she didn't receive a single vote despite being widely praised in the media for "inspiring" voters. Her performances in the Democratic primary debates were unmemorable save for two moments that briefly captured the public's attention: 1) the time she OWNED her future running mate for cavorting with racists and 2) the time Tulsi Gabbard OWNED Harris with marijuana facts first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
Harris briefly joined the "top tier" of Democratic primary candidates after slamming Biden's record on race relations during a June 2019 debate. "It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations on the segregation of race in this country," Harris told Biden. "You also worked with them to oppose busing."
Biden had repeatedly cited his work with lawmakers who supported racial segregation as an example of why he was the most qualified candidate in the race. When pressed on the issue, Biden refused to apologize or back down despite widespread condemnation from the rest of the Democratic field. "That's a [incomprehensible] of my position across the board," Biden said in response to Harris's attack. "I did not praise racists."
The exchange redounded to Harris's benefit and briefly propelled her to second place in the RealClearPolitics polling average. Alas, her campaign utterly collapsed in the months that followed. Biden, meanwhile, managed to win the primary despite running a decidedly mediocre campaign. Racism likely played a role, according to experts.
The demise of Harris's campaign was precipitated in part by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's (D., Hawaii) dismantling of the former California attorney general's record on criminal justice, particularly as it related to marijuana-involved convictions. Citing a Free Beacon report, Gabbard attacked Harris for putting more than 1,500 people in jail for marijuana offenses while joking about smoking pot herself during a podcast interview.
"Senator Harris said she was proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she'll be a prosecutor president but I'm deeply concerned about this record," Gabbard said during a primary debate on July 31, 2019. Harris ended her campaign just four months later, while Gabbard remained in the race until March 2020.