As it happened: US Election 2020 vice-presidential debate: Mike Pence, Kamala Harris faced off

The Democratic and Republic candidates for Vice President of the United States faced off in the latest US election debate on Thursday.

Kamala Harris, a 55-year-old California senator, became the first black woman on a major presidential ticket in US history when Democrat Joe Biden selected her as his running mate.

She went up against incumbent Vice President and Republican candidate Mike Pence. The 61-year-old Christian is the former Governor of Indiana and running mate of Donald Trump.

The 90-minute vice-presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, was set to be one of the most important in US history after Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week.

The presidential candidates are also some of the oldest in history, putting extra emphasis on the role of second in command.

Americans will also be watching the debate to get a better understanding of the Republican and Democratic policies which were neglected during the "train wreck" first Presidential face off.

Here's what you need to know:

These live updates have now finished.

4:40pm - CBS News has completed a fact check into a claim from Pence that the US has reduced CO2 emissions through innovation.

"What's remarkable is the United States has reduced CO2 more than the countries that are still in the Paris Climate Accord," Pence said during the debate.

"But we've done it through innovation and we've done it through natural gas, and fracking."

But the fact check found the claim to be "misleading".

CO2 emissions in the US decreased in 2017, before spiking again in 2018, and declining again in 2019.

CBS said most of the decline was due to the US moving away from coal-powered energy in favour of renewable energy and even more so because of natural gas power produced by fracking.

They said the declines still fall short of what the US pledged to achieve under the Paris Climate Accord. 

"However, targets under the accord are different for every country, so simply comparing US reductions to emissions of other countries is an unfair comparison," the fact check said.

4:30pm - Here's how some celebrities have reacted to the vice-presidential debate.

4:10pm - Thursday's debate was the only between the US vice-presidential candidates. 

The second debate between incumbent President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden is set to take place on October 16 at 2pm (NZT).

 It is not known if Trump's recent COVID-19 diagnosis will affect this. He returned to the Oval Office on Thursday and said he is "feeling good".

Biden and Trump will have their last chance to win over voters in the final debate on October 23, 2pm (NZT). 

The US election is on November 3.

For more information on the hosts, candidates and election click here.

4:05pm - Donald Trump Jr has tweeted saying "of course" Harris did not answer the question about packing the court with Democrats.

"That's what they plan on doing," he said.

"When the Democrats can't get their way they will change the rules to push their leftist agenda. They're not even pretending anymore."

3:55pm- Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has congratulated Kamala Harris on her performance during the debate. 

"You made us all proud tonight," he tweeted.

Donald Trump tweeted that "Mike Pence WON BIG!"

The US President continued to share videos from the Republican campaign and slips from his favourite debate moments.

They included Pence calling for Harris to give a straight answer to whether the Democrats plan to pack to Supreme Court.

In another, he said Trump respects and revers everyone in the armed forces. "Any suggestion otherwise is ridiculous," Pence said.

Karen Pence, Mike's wife, also tweeted he had hit a "home run" in the debate.

Vice President Mike Pence and wife Karen Pence appear on stage after the vice presidential debate.
Vice President Mike Pence and wife Karen Pence appear on stage after the vice presidential debate. Photo credit: Getty
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris waves to the crowd with husband Douglas Emhoff after in the vice presidential debate.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris waves to the crowd with husband Douglas Emhoff after in the vice presidential debate. Photo credit: Getty

3:35pm - The debate has now wrapped up and the candidates have left the stage.

3:33pm - Pence said he believed the Trump administration will be re-elected during the US election on November 3.

Harris said she believes the Democrats can win, citing they have connected with people.

But she urged everyone to vote, to ensure their preferred candidate is elected.

3:30pm - The debate has moved onto the issue of racial injustice.

Susan Page asked the candidates about the death of medical worker Breonna Taylor who was fatally shot in her own apartment on March 13 after police detectives forced their way in in a botched raid.

Harris said she doesn't believe justice has been completed for Breonna Talyor's death, or for George Floyd who died after a police officer knelt on his kneck for over eight minutes.

Pence said his "heart breaks for the loss of any American life", but "I trust our justice system".

"There's no excuse for what happened to George Floyd and justice will be seved. But thre is no justification for the rioting and looting which happened afterward."

Pence noted a salon which was burnt down by rioters.

"This presumption that you hear consistently that America is systemically racist and Joe Biden has said they have an implicit biased against minorities," he said.

"This is an insult to everyone who serves in law enforcement.... Trump and I stand with you."

But Harris hit back at Trump for failing to condemn white supremacy.

She slammed his comments for telling the Proud Boys to "stand down and stand by".

"America you deserve better... and someone who sees the beauty in our diversity."

Pence could be heard muttering: "Not true".

3:22pm - Amy Coney Barett, a conservative, is expected to overturn American womens' rights have an abortion due to her faith.

Harris replied that she will always fight for a woman's right to make a decision about her own body.

3:15pm - Pence called on Harris to clarify if she and Biden plan to "pack the Supreme Court" if Amy Coney Barrett replaces Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Supreme Court Justice.

"The American people deserve a straight answer," Pence said.

Harris avoided directly answering the question, saying it was up to the people.

"I have witnessed the lifetime appointments to the Court of Appeal.. many of whom have been found to be incompetent. And did you know the people Trump has appointed to the court of appeals, not on has been black."

Pence said he "wanted the record to reflect she never answered the question".

3:05pm - Pence has clashed with moderator Susan Page.

Pence called for the opportunity to respond to Harris' comment on the military as Page attempted to move on to the next topic.

The Republican candidate has repeatedly gone over his time limit, with Page saying "Thank you Vice President" several times in an effort to move on.

"You've had more time than she's had so far," Page told Pence, allowing him 15 seconds to reply.

"That's not enough," he replied.

Page said that before the debate Pence had agreed to the rules and "I'm here to enforce them", which included the time limits.

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - OCTOBER 07: Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence participate in the vice presidential debate at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the only scheduled debate between the two before the general election on November 3. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

2:55pm - Harris has said that those making less than $400,000 won't see an increase in taxes under Biden's plan. 

"I think there couldn't be a more fundamental difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden," she said, adding that Trump evaluates the economy based on how the rich are doing.

But Pence argued that Biden and Harris would raise everyone's taxes "on day one".

2:46pm - On Healthcare, Harris said for Americans with pre-existing health conditions: "the Trump campaign is coming for you".

"If you have... heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they're coming for you. If you love someone who has a pre-existing condition, they're coming for you."

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - OCTOBER 07: Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence participate in the vice presidential debate moderated by Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today Susan Page (C) at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The vice presidential candidates only meet once to debate before the general election on November 3. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

2:35pm - Pence has been evasive in answering some questions regarding the transparency of the Trump administration.

The Guardian has reported Pence has already made "several false statements".

Harris, however, said Biden has been "incredibly transparent". 

"One thing we know about Joe is he puts it all out there," she said. "Donald Trump on the other hand has been covering up everything."

She later added: "I think this debate is supposed to be a debate on truth".

Mike Pence.
Mike Pence. Photo credit: Getty
Kamala Harris.
Kamala Harris. Photo credit: Getty

2:28pm - The debate is so far much less chaotic than the first presidential debate.  The candidates, however, have been trying to gain more time during their assigned two-minute uninterrupted slots to answer Page's questions. 

Harris has recounted the day Joe Biden asked her to become his running mate saying it was "one of the most memorable days of my life".

She said her mother "would be proud".

Harris said Biden and her are very similar in her beliefs, and also listed several roles she has taken on and paved the way for other black women in politics.

"I think Joe asked me to serve with him because we share a purpose about lifting up the American people."

2:20pm - Pence has claimed Biden plagiarised the Trump administration's COVID-19 response.

2:18pm - Pence started his statement on COVID-19 by thanking Harris, Page and those who set up the debate.

He then went on to discuss how the Trump administration had saved "thousands" of lives.

"From the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first."

But Harris replied that thousands of people have still died, and slammed Trump for remaining coy about the extent of the pandemic in February and March.

Pence replied: "There's not a day that's gone by when I haven't thought about every person who has lost a family member".

"Everything Dr [Anthony] Fauci told Trump in the Oval Office, Trump told the people."

He said if the Trump administration hadn't acted, they had been told 2.2 million Americans could have died.

He also thanked Americans for adhering to restrictions amid the pandemic.

Pence said their administration also "respected the freedom of the American people".

2:10pm - The debate has kicked off with Page asking Kamala Harris about the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said 39 states have had more cases over the past seven days than the week before and the country has been severely affected by the pandemic.

Page asked what would a Biden administration do that the Trump administration wouldn't.

Harris said the Trump administration was a great failure for the United States due to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and criticised them for not having a plan.

She said one part of the Biden administration's plan is to ensure the vaccine for COVID-19 is "free for all".

2:05pm - Kamala Harris and Mike Pence have arrived on stage to a round of applause.

Debate moderator Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today Susan Page.
Debate moderator Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today Susan Page. Photo credit: Getty

2pm - The US debate between the next potential Vice Presidents of the United States will be beginning any minute now. 

The debate is 90 minutes long without advertisement breaks and is being moderated by Susan Page of USA Today. 

The Guardian reports Page has asked the audience to remain quiet and refrain from applauding during the debate.

Harris and Pence are set to discuss nine topics in 10-minute long segments, which haven't been disclosed ahead of the debate.

The debate stage is prepared for the vice-presidential debate.
The debate stage is prepared for the vice-presidential debate. Photo credit: Getty

1:40pm- Thursday's debate comes after COVID-19 outbreak was discovered in the White House over the weekend.

US President Donald Trump tested positive on Friday and was taken to Walter Reed Hospital as a precautionary measure the following day.

Since then a growing number of staff have tested positive including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, adviser Hope Hicks, First Lady Melania Trump, several senators and former counsellor Kellyanne Conway.

On Monday, Trump made the controversial decision to take part in a drive-by past supporters, despite likely still being positive for COVID-19.

The move was slammed by Walter Reed physician Dr James Phillips and two American psychologists.

Trump was then discharged on Tuesday and returned to the White House saying he was "feeling really good!"

"Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!" he tweeted.

On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was safe for Pence to take part in the vice presidential debate because he was not a close contact of anyone with COVID-19.

1:20pm - Harris and Pence are expected to front a more "standard" debate style as opposed to the "hot mess" of the first Presidential debate between Trump and Biden.

CNN reported Harris' strategy is to make the contest about the US President Donald Trump and the Republican administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Even though it is a vice presidential debate, the debate is about Donald Trump and Joe Biden," a Democratic campaign aide said. "And it is all about making the case for why we need Joe Biden in this moment and why Donald Trump has failed."

She has reportedly been studying Pence's past positions and has been seeking advice from people who have previously debated them.

Republican candidate Mike Pence is expected to abide by the debates' rules and stay on point.

But aides told CNN he won't be afraid to return fire on Harris if given the opportunity,

1pm - The Vice Presidential candidates are set to face off at 2pm (NZT). They will be taking to the stage at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. As part of COVID-19 precautions, plexiglass barriers have been installed on stage between the candidates. Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will be seated for the 90-minute debate, in a departure from the standing format during the first Presidential debate.

Workers sit separated by newly installed plexiglass barriers on the stage ahead of the vice presidential debate.
Workers sit separated by newly installed plexiglass barriers on the stage ahead of the vice presidential debate. Photo credit: Getty
Workers install plexiglass barriers on the stage ahead of the Vice Presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah October 6, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Workers install plexiglass barriers on the stage ahead of the Vice Presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah October 6, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo credit: Getty
A view of Kingsbury Hall is seen ahead of the Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah on October 06, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Vice President Mike Pence and US Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are set to debate.
A view of Kingsbury Hall is seen ahead of the Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah on October 06, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Vice President Mike Pence and US Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are set to debate. Photo credit: Getty