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What Did Voters Think Of The Vice Presidential Debate?


President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were supposed to have a second debate next week, but that's now in doubt. The Commission on Presidential Debates this morning confirmed that they would move ahead with a virtual town hall-style event next Thursday. Both candidates would be in separate locations, and the commission cited health and safety reasons for that. But that is not going down well with President Trump, who talked to Fox Business News this morning.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That's not what debating's all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate is ridiculous.

KING: So the president is saying he won't participate in this debate - at least now that's what he's saying. And his campaign is saying they'll hold a rally that night instead.

Last night, of course, was the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. They met in person in Salt Lake City, Utah, though plexiglass dividers did separate them. We've been talking to voters about that event, and some of them told us they were relieved that they could just follow what was happening after last week's very chaotic presidential debate.

JENNIFER SAVLATI: I was pretty excited that the debate was a little more civil than the last debate.

KING: Jennifer Savlati (ph) of Farmington, Minn., says the pandemic is her top issue.

SAVLATI: It just seems like Trump-Pence ticket doesn't have any specific - I mean, they've been in charge, and nothing has happened all this time. And you know, Biden has a plan ready to go for Day 1.

KING: Arlene Zaffle (ph), a retiree from Aurora, Colo., noticed when the vice president didn't directly answer questions about the administration's performance.

ARLENE ZAFFLE: I just was not happy with Pence just brushing it off that they did really well and it would keep going great. And he really didn't have anything to say about, you know, what he would do if there was a disability in the president. He didn't reassure me at all.

KING: And although Pence spoke quietly, she didn't find him polite.

ZAFFLE: He was cool, calm, collected and was a very rude, mansplaining jerk, actually.


So that's one view of the debate. Another came from Catherine Katari (ph) of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was unimpressed with Senator Harris.

CATHERINE KATARI: She's giving her opinion, and she was not giving truthful facts. And that's what stood out to me.

INSKEEP: She thought Vice President Pence made a convincing argument for why President Trump's Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed.

KATARI: He's the president for four years - four sitting years. You still don't want to believe that he's the president for four sitting years, and he has the duty as a sitting president to put in that Supreme Court nomination.

KING: This was the first time ever watching a debate for Erika Impagliatelli. She's a registered Republican and says Pence's answers to questions about the economy really stuck with her.

ERIKA IMPAGLIATELLI: I haven't heard Pence, honestly, talk very much (laughter). I try to listen. But it's mostly, whenever you hear anything, it's just Trump babbling. So I was excited to actually hear him speak.

KING: But she wishes the candidates had gotten a little more personal.

IMPAGLIATELLI: I thought it was very interesting how they kind of blindly supported their presidential candidate. I was hoping for a little bit more from both of them, a little bit more independence from them.

KING: Just some of the voters who saw last night's vice presidential debate. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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