Trump and Pence are doing their best to alienate women voters

Trump and Pence are doing their best to alienate women voters
Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, photos via Gage Skidmore.

If suburban women heard it once during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, they heard some version of it more than a dozen times. "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking," Sen. Kamala Harris said, as she fought through Mike Pence's verbal badgering to make the point that Donald Trump lied to the country about how lethal the coronavirus is.

Pence's manner wasn't nearly as bellicose as the disastrous performance Trump gave during last week's presidential debate, but he still repeatedly talked over Harris and sought to steal her time throughout the hour-and-a-half debate. MSNBC reported Thursday morning that Pence had interrupted Harris at least 16 times—giving the suburban women the Trump-Pence ticket so desperately needs at least 16 reasons to stick with the Biden-Harris ticket.

It's not like it was a small transgression. When debate moderator and USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page laid out the ground rules for the evening, she stipulated that Harris and Pence would have two minutes to respond to each question "without interruption." In fact, in an effort to preempt another debate circus, Page reminded both candidates that they had two minutes to respond "without interruption" or "uninterrupted" no less than 13 times.

But Pence, with all that honest-to-goodness white male privilege of his, clearly figured the rules didn't apply to him. He talked over Page, he talked over Harris, and frankly, Harris repeatedly lobbied to be afforded more time after Pence siphoned away her precious seconds.

In fact, some of Harris' biggest zingers came after she fought for extra time to make her points. Roughly 30 minutes into the debate, as Harris reminded viewers that Trump was in court "right now, trying to get rid of" the Affordable Care Act, Page started to cut her off.

"He interrupted me and I'd like to just finish, please," Harris noted, before continuing, "If you have a preexisting condition—heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer—they're coming for you. If you love someone who has a preexisting condition, they're coming for you. If you are under the age of 26 on your parents' coverage, they're coming for you."

Pence tried to cut Harris off, calling her charge "nonsense," but it was a clear and forceful moment for Harris as she looked directly at the camera to address viewers watching from their living rooms across America.

But if Pence's 16 interruptions weren't enough reasons for suburban women to stay in the Biden-Harris camp, here's a 17th: Harris ultimately logged almost exactly as much speaking time as Pence, with Pence getting 36 minutes and 27 seconds to Harris' 36 minutes and 24 seconds. Any woman who's fought her way into a male-dominated conversation in a board room knows that equal time didn't come without a fight.

And if those 17 reasons weren't enough, Trump's personal post-debate outreach to "Suburban Housewives of America" surely was.

Let's count Trump's two references to Harris as a "monster" on Thursday morning as reasons number 18 and 19 to flee the GOP ticket—as if the suburban women of America needed any more reasons to ditch Republicans altogether.

Watch Harris fight to make one of the most important points of the night.


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