WASHINGTON — Here at the Union Pub on Massachusetts Avenue NE, the socially distanced audience became quiet and trained their eyes and attention to a projection screen, a 32-inch, and two 24-inch TV sets.
Thursday night’s Kamala Harris vs. Mike Pence vice presidential debate was calm and thoughtful, unlike the verbal cage fight last week between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, vice president from 2009-2017.
After moderator Susan Page, USA Today Washington editor, introduced the candidates and announced the rules of engagement, her first question about the coronavirus pandemic and what was a Biden administration’s plan to subdue it was directed to Harris, the Democratic senator from California. She answered the question gracefully. Once Harris answered and questions volleyed between Pence and Harris, numerous patrons began to lose interest.
The debate continued, and some citizens began side conversations and talked about what they thought, based off the answers provided by the candidates. Personal feelings and opinions were developed, and lines were drawn as the citizens began to pick their sides.
Yet all in all, there appeared to be no overtly partisan sides. Citizens seemed genuinely interested in the debate, looking to get clarification in order plot the future. The debate gave the local and nationally televised audience a clear glimpse into the true character of the candidates.
In Salt Lake City, moderator Page said that audience members were required to wear masks.
At Union Pub, the management required mask-wearing and social distancing. This reporter was told he could not walk up to patrons and interview them.
So instead, this reporter observed people’s body language and chatter from a distance.
The writer is a student at the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.