Pence, Harris to meet in vice presidential debate as Covid cases surge in the White House

SALT LAKE CITY — Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are set to meet Wednesday night at the University of Utah in the vice presidential debate as both candidates face intensified pressure to demonstrate they are prepared to step in as commander in chief.

The vice presidential debate typically draws little fanfare, Pence and Harris will be examined by voters who are choosing between two senior citizens for president.

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis last week sparked questions over the transferral of the powers of the presidency. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said he sees himself as a “bridge” to the next generation of Democrats, raising speculation as to whether he would seek a second term.

Regardless of who wins, Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, would both set a new record for the oldest president on to take the oath on inauguration day.

The 90-minute debate will be moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page and will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET. It is the only vice presidential debate of the 2020 presidential campaign.

The debate will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each and there will be no commercial breaks. Topics are not being disclosed ahead of time.

Harris will also make history as the first Black woman and the first Asian American to participate in a general election debate as a candidate on a major-party ticket.

While Trump’s diagnosis is expected to hang over the debate hall, Wednesday’s event will also feature a visual reminder of the ongoing pandemic and the nearly 20 people tied to Trump who have tested positive for the virus in the past few days.

Sheets of plexiglass will separate the two candidates on the stage, an extra safety measure that Harris requested because of Pence’s potential exposure to Trump. There was some concern that Trump could have infected Biden during last week’s debate. Biden has consistently tested negative.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the candidates would also be separated by more than 12 feet, an increase from the 7 feet that kept Trump and Biden apart.

Masks are also required by all attendees except for the candidates and the moderator. The CPD has indicated that the mask requirement will be enforced on Wednesday, following last week’s debate when members of the Trump family ignored the rule.

Both Pence and Harris have tested negative for Covid-19 multiple days in a row, according to their campaigns.

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U.S. vice presidential debate to include plexiglass barrier after White House outbreak

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence and challenger Kamala Harris will be separated by a plexiglass barrier during their debate on Wednesday in an effort to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission, the commission overseeing the event said.

The debate, the only one scheduled between the vice presidential candidates, is scheduled for Salt Lake City, six days after President Donald Trump announced he had contracted the virus.

Both Harris, a Democratic U.S. senator, and Pence, a Republican, have tested negative in recent days, with the vice president working from home over the weekend instead of at the White House. A number of White House staffers and prominent Republicans, including three U.S. senators, have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Commission on Presidential Debates also said the two candidates would be seated more than 12 feet (3.7 m) apart. There will be a limited number of guests at the debate, all of whom will undergo testing, and anyone who does not wear a mask will be “escorted out,” the commission said.

At the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week, several members of Trump’s family did not wear masks while sitting in the audience.

In a statement, Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, said: “If Senator Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it.”

In response, Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for Harris, wrote on Twitter: “Interesting that @VPComDir Katie Miller mocks our wanting a plexiglass barrier on the debate stage, when her own boss is supposedly in charge of the COVID-19 task force and should be advocating for this too.”

Miller herself had COVID-19 in the spring.

DEBATE SAFETY

Also on Monday, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the president intends to participate in the next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

Trump left a military hospital here on Monday after three days of treatment, although mixed messages from the White House have prompted uncertainty about how ill he became.

Biden said on Monday he was willing to participate in next week’s scheduled debate with Trump as long as health experts say it would be safe.

The diagnosis has raised questions about the safety of staging the debates for the Nov. 3 election. The first of three scheduled debates took place last week, two days before Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

“If the scientists say that it’s safe and the distances are safe, then I think that’s fine. I’ll do whatever the experts say is the appropriate thing to do,” Biden, who tested negative for COVID-19 over the weekend, told reporters in Delaware before heading to Florida on a campaign trip.

The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the novel coronavirus is 14 days.

Trump has frequently played down the threat of the pandemic that has now infected 7.4 million Americans and killed more than 209,000. Biden has criticized Trump for not taking the health concerns seriously enough.

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Vice Presidential Vacancy Isn’t Automatically Filled by House Speaker



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© Provided by FactCheck.org


Quick Take

A viral Facebook post wrongly suggests that if Joe Biden were to become president and later step down, Nancy Pelosi would become vice president. The Constitution says the vice president would become president and nominate a replacement; Congress must confirm or deny that pick.

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The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lays out the political ascension that occurs if a president steps down or is removed from office, in which the vice president assumes the presidency.

But a Facebook post — circulating ahead of the Sept. 17 Constitution Day, no less — is distorting the facts about what a vice presidential vacancy would mean if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden became president and later stepped down.

“Biden steps down, Harris becomes president ! Makes Pelosi vice president. Think about That one,” the text post, shared by more than 8,000 users, reads.

While it’s true that Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, would become president in that hypothetical scenario, it’s false to suggest that Nancy Pelosi — assuming she is still House speaker — would automatically become vice president.

The 25th Amendment says that: “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.”

Its next section reads: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.”

So if Biden and Harris won the 2020 election and Biden stepped down after taking office, as the post hypothesizes, Harris would become president and then nominate a new vice president. And Congress would have the final say on confirming that nominee.

The 25th Amendment was approved by Congress in 1965 — not long after Vice President Lyndon Johnson became president following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and was ratified by three-quarters of the states in 1967, according to the U.S. National Archives.

When President Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973, Nixon nominated House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president.

And when Nixon resigned the following year, Ford became president and nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York, to become vice president.

It is true, however, that under current law, if there is no president or vice president, the House speaker would be next in line for the presidency.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

“25th Amendment.” Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

Kilpatrick, Carroll. “Nixon Resigns.” Washington Post. 9 Aug 1974.

“Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, 41st Vice President (1974-1977).” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“Presidential Succession Act.” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“The 25th Amendment: Succession of the Presidency.” Pieces of History. U.S. National Archives. 10 Feb 2017.

The post

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Vice Presidential Vacancy Isn’t Automatically Filled by House Speaker

Quick Take

A viral Facebook post wrongly suggests that if Joe Biden were to become president and later step down, Nancy Pelosi would become vice president. The Constitution says the vice president would become president and nominate a replacement; Congress must confirm or deny that pick.


Full Story 

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lays out the political ascension that occurs if a president steps down or is removed from office, in which the vice president assumes the presidency.

But a Facebook post — circulating ahead of the Sept. 17 Constitution Day, no less — is distorting the facts about what a vice presidential vacancy would mean if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden became president and later stepped down.

“Biden steps down, Harris becomes president ! Makes Pelosi vice president. Think about That one,” the text post, shared by more than 8,000 users, reads.

While it’s true that Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, would become president in that hypothetical scenario, it’s false to suggest that Nancy Pelosi — assuming she is still House speaker — would automatically become vice president.

The 25th Amendment says that: “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.”

Its next section reads: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.”

So if Biden and Harris won the 2020 election and Biden stepped down after taking office, as the post hypothesizes, Harris would become president and then nominate a new vice president. And Congress would have the final say on confirming that nominee.

The 25th Amendment was approved by Congress in 1965 — not long after Vice President Lyndon Johnson became president following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and was ratified by three-quarters of the states in 1967, according to the U.S. National Archives.

When President Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973, Nixon nominated House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president.

And when Nixon resigned the following year, Ford became president and nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York, to become vice president.

It is true, however, that under current law, if there is no president or vice president, the House speaker would be next in line for the presidency.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

“25th Amendment.” Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

Kilpatrick, Carroll. “Nixon Resigns.” Washington Post. 9 Aug 1974.

“Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, 41st Vice President (1974-1977).” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“Presidential Succession Act.” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“The 25th Amendment: Succession of the Presidency.” Pieces of History. U.S. National Archives. 10 Feb 2017.

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Biden’s White House stenographer says former vice president a ‘shell of his former self’

A stenographer who worked in the White House while Joe Biden served as vice president said the 2020 presidential candidate is currently a “shell of his former self.”

“That’s not Joe Biden,” former White House stenographer Mike McCormick told Laura Ingraham on Fox News Tuesday night. “That’s a shell of his former self. Joe Biden is a different guy than he was. He doesn’t have the same vitality. I listened to every word Joe Biden spoke.”

McCormick, who worked in the White House for 15 years, including from 2011 to 2017 under the Obama administration, says Biden’s speech at the Democratic National Convention “wasn’t the Biden I knew.”

“When I saw him do his speech at the Democratic National Convention, that wasn’t the Joe Biden I knew,” McCormick said. “That guy was reading from a teleprompter, and it was almost verbatim, and he’s never done that.”

President Trump and his supporters have often criticized Biden’s mental fortitude. The Trump campaign recently placed an ad focusing on Biden’s television appearances that asks “what happened to Joe Biden,” which shows clips of Biden as vice president compared to now.

Trump responded to Biden’s speech at the Democratic National Convention by suggesting a mandatory drug test before the first presidential debate.

“Go back and watch his performances in some of those debates,” Trump told Washington Examiner in late August. “He didn’t know where he was. And all of a sudden, he was not good, he was normal, and I don’t understand how. I don’t know if there is or not, but somebody said to me, ‘He must be on drugs.’ I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’m asking for a drug test. Both candidates. Me, too. I take an aspirin a day.”

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