The one debate question we wished the VP candidates were pressed on

Hey folks, Aric here. I covered the vice presidential debate last night for Fortune. I found it to be at once relatively uneventful—save for the fly!—and hugely satisfying to see Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian running mate on a major party ticket, on the stage. She delivered an inspiring biography at one point, reflecting on the sacrifice her mother made to emigrate to the United States.

Unfortunately, that endearing story came at the cost of a proper answer to one of the more important questions of the evening. From my story last night:

[M]oderator Susan Page asked a question on the mind of many Americans following President Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19: “Have you had a conversation, or reached an agreement with [Trump or Biden] about safeguards or procedures when it comes to presidential disability?”

In other words: Are they prepared to succeed as President?

Both vice presidential candidates dodged the question entirely.

Harris responded with an admittedly elegant transition to her family background; Pence backtracked to previous discussion about the Trump Administration’s plans for a COVID-19 vaccine. As disappointing as it was to see the question go unanswered, it was a predictable response, I suppose. Neither VP candidate wants to touch on how their party’s presidential nominee will be 78 (Biden) and 74 (Trump) by January’s inauguration. Or how that age range makes them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, as Trump knows well by now.

Still, as uncomfortable of a question it is to raise, it’s certainly one worth asking—and answering. We can only hope there is some sort of plan, just in case.

For more debate coverage, check out my colleague Nicole Goodkind’s piece on Pence’s struggles to answer coronavirus-related questions, and Rey Mashayekhi on the winners and losers.

Aric Jenkins

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