Harris Preps for Vice Presidential Debate With Buttigieg Standing In as Pence

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  • Bloomberg QuickTake: Now published this video item, entitled “Harris Preps for Vice Presidential Debate With Buttigieg Standing In as Pence” – below is their description.

    Kamala Harris’s team is working to manage public expectations that her upcoming debate with Vice President Mike Pence will present her with an easy opponent, despite her withering attacks on Democratic rivals in earlier presidential primary debates. As the Democratic vice-presidential nominee readies for the face-off on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, her team has cast former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to play Pence in mock debates, according to two people familiar with the preparations. The debate would mark the highest-profile moment for Harris and Pence of the final campaign stretch before the Nov. 3 election. While Harris has participated in multiple debates during the Democratic primary, neither she nor her Republican rival has taken part in a one-on-one debate in years. Surrogates and allies of Harris are cautioning voters not to look for a knockout punch from Harris, even though she has developed a reputation as a strong debater on the campaign trail, backed by her experience as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and years as a prosecutor in California. Harris herself acknowledged the high bar at a fundraiser Monday. “He’s a good debater. So, I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint,” Harris said. Matt Paul, who served as chief of staff to Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine in the 2016 campaign, said the general-election debate will be significantly more challenging than the primary debates. “Harris has to do three things in the debate: defend her record, defend Biden’s record and prosecute the case against Trump,” Paul said. For Harris, that means reviewing Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s more than 40 years in public life and being prepared to defend his past statements. Harris is also still learning the long list of policy proposals Biden has introduced in the last year, according to people familiar with her debate prep. “I think Kamala is suffering from too high of expectations in terms of her debate performance with Pence,” former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill told David Plouffe on his podcast earlier this month. “I think we all like need to take a deep breath and quit saying, ‘I can’t wait for Kamala to debate Pence.’ It won’t be like that. It won’t be that Pence will be laying bleeding on the floor when Kamala is done. So, we’ve got to lower expectations for Kamala and keep the expectations for Biden low.” The Biden campaign declined to comment. The Trump campaign did not immediately responded to a request for comment. Harris’s debate prep is being led by Karen Dunn, a lawyer at Paul Weiss, who was also involved in Barack Obama’s, Hillary Clinton’s and Kaine’s preparations. Others deeply involved in the process include Biden senior advisers Bruce Reed and Symone Sanders, Rohini Kosoglu, Harris’s senior adviser, and Liz Allen, Harris’s communications director. Jake Sullivan, a top policy aide to Biden, has also attended some debate prep sessions, according to people familiar with the process. Harris developed a reputation as a strong debater during one of the first presidential primary debates, when an attack on Biden was so sharp it was still being discussed when Biden, now the nominee, was deciding who to choose as his No. 2. She accused him of siding with segregationist senators in the 1970s against federal requirements to bus Black children to predominantly White schools, poignantly describing her own experience as a Black and Indian-American child. “That little girl was me,” she said in a line now seen on T-shirts. That performance was ultimately seen as a boon as Democrats felt confident she would excel across a stage from mild-mannered Pence. Harris has also displayed the skills she honed as a prosecutor at high-pressure moments in Senate hearings, particularly the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. When she was nominated for the vice presidency, Democrats were gleeful at the prospect of her bringing the combination of her incisive questioning and crippling attacks to the stage with Pence. In 2016, Pence delivered a strong performance against Kaine, showing his dexterity in defending President Donald Trump while also going on the attack against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Pence has also had the past four years to practice defending Trump’s record, whereas Harris is still familiarizing herself with Biden’s.

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