SEVERE WX : Frost Advisory View Alerts

WATCH: Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Kamala Harris face off in Vice Presidential Debate

Seated 12 feet apart, Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic rival, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, will meet in Utah on Oct. 7 for the only vice presidential debate of the campaign. | Getty

Susan Page of USA Today is the moderator.

Posted: Oct 6, 2020 11:46 PM
Updated: Oct 7, 2020 8:08 PM

WAAY 31 and ABC News will air three hours of special primetime coverage of the 2020 vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris on Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m.

The debate takes place at the University of Utah. Susan Page of USA Today is the moderator.

ABC Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos will lead coverage from New York City joined by “World News Tonight” Anchor David Muir and “ABC News Live Prime” Anchor Linsey Davis.

Network coverage begins at 7 p.m. with a one-hour special, "Pence vs. Harris: The Vice Presidential Debate - A Special Edition of 20/20.”

ABC News Live will begin coverage at 6 p.m. previewing the debate on the network’s streaming news channel. You can watch that below.

Stay with WAAY 31 for complete coverage of the 2020 presidential election.


(CNN) -- Seated 12 feet apart, Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic rival, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, will meet in Utah at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night for the only vice presidential debate of the campaign.

Their showdown comes with the highest stakes for a vice presidential debate in recent memory, in part because President Donald Trump's coronavirus diagnosis has made it unclear if and how additional presidential debates will take place.

It will also mark a historic moment, as Harris becomes the first Black and South Asian woman to participate in a general election presidential campaign debate.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race.

It comes at a chaotic moment in Washington. Coronavirus is spreading rapidly through Trump's White House and among his top campaign allies. And on Tuesday, Trump abruptly halted stimulus talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pence and Harris share tickets with two of the oldest men to run for president -- the 74-year-old Trump and the 77-year-old Democratic nominee, Joe Biden -- putting an extra emphasis on their roles as the second in command.

Here are five things to watch in Wednesday night's debate:

Distance and plexiglass barriers

Even before the pandemic is mentioned at Wednesday night's debate, its presence will be obvious.

Debate organizers, in response to the spread of the coronavirus inside the White House and the fact that Pence was at an event that was seemingly the genesis of the White House spread just over a week ago, made a number of changes to their safety protocols, including putting Pence and Harris more than 12 feet apart, using plexiglass as barriers between the candidates and requiring everyone in the audience wear masks.

The coronavirus risks around the debate led some Democrats to question why the contest was even happening, particularly given Pence's proximity to those who have recently tested positive. Jesse Schonau, Pence's physician, said in a memo released Tuesday that the vice president does not need to quarantine because he was not a "close contact" of anyone who has tested positive as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pence has had multiple negative coronavirus tests.

But the changes to the format will make a point that Pence, who chairs the administration's coronavirus task force, and the Trump campaign are seeking to avoid: The pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of American life, including the way the country holds political debates.

Pence's team challenged the installation of plexiglass barriers around him at the debate after the commission announced that they would be used, before ultimately agreeing to their installation.

But their resistance highlighted how the Trump campaign wants to avoid the omnipresence of the coronavirus and the worry among some in the President's orbit that it could set a precedent for the forthcoming debates between Trump and Biden.

Harris' challenge on coronavirus

Trump has tried to cast his Covid diagnosis and supposed recovery as a bonus. In his telling, he's a fearless leader who took on the virus and triumphed -- setting a model for bravery in the face of a pandemic.

He's made no mention of those in his inner circle who've fallen ill, nor the others on the White House staff -- political and nonpartisan professionals -- who are sick now. Empathy for the more than 210,000 Americans to die from the disease, and their families, has also been absent from his public statements.

For Harris, the challenge is to use this massive stage and draw a line -- clear enough for anyone to see and impossible to ignore -- from Trump's handling of the pandemic as President to the growing fiasco inside his administration.

She must do this while the President's own prognosis remains unknown. And even if, as Biden said on Monday night, his infection is largely the result of his own refusal to follow standard safety procedures, personal broadsides against him while he is battling the virus could carry some potential risk.

Pence needs to project calm

It has been a chaotic week for the Trump campaign, punctuated by the President himself testing positive for the virus and spending three days in the hospital but beginning with a frenzied debate between the President and Biden.

Pence's goals in Wednesday night's debate are to project a calm that Trump was unable to signal last week, while defending the administration's handling of the pandemic and delivering the Trump campaign's messaging that the virus should not dominate American life.

It's a difficult task: More than 210,000 Americans have died from the virus, small businesses across the country have been decimated and the prospect of more economic stimulus for Americans was rejected on Tuesday evening when the President urged Republicans to walk away from negotiations with Democrats, tanking the stock market.

But Pence, according to people who know him well or have debated him in the past, is one of the most skilled politicians at redirecting a question to a topic he wants to focus on.

"Mike is a good debater," said John Gregg, an Indiana Democrat who went to law school with Pence and ran against him for governor in 2012. "On certain questions that he gets, if he doesn't want to answer it, he is just a master at not answering it and pivoting to talking points."

Harris faces the ghosts of policies past

Harris entered the Democratic presidential primary as a supporter of "Medicare for All," the national health insurance plan written and championed by her competitor Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

By the time she dropped out, in December 2019, the senator from California had rowed back her support and unveiled her own plan, which called for transitioning to a government-run program over 10 years but allowing private insurers to participate.

Now she is making the case for Biden and his proposal to beef up the Affordable Care Act and create a public option on top of it.

Trump and Pence don't have a credible health care plan of their own, but that won't stop the vice president from trying to paint Harris as a tool of the "radical left" over both her initial backing of Medicare for All and her own proposal. Her ability to pivot out of that conversation and into one about the current administration's policies, both on the pandemic and their support for a lawsuit that threatens the ACA, could be a defining moment.

Unanswered questions

In the first presidential debate, Biden wouldn't directly answer a question about whether he would support increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. He has also not given a yes-or-no answer to whether he would support -- if Democrats win control of the Senate -- abolishing the filibuster.

Trump couldn't get answers from Biden, but Pence might try to press Harris on those questions as he seeks to argue that the Biden-Harris ticket is beholden to the Democratic Party's progressive wing, which has sought the changes. Pence, meanwhile, could have to address Trump's seesawing tweets Tuesday about an economic stimulus. The President took to Twitter to announce that he had ended negotiations with Pelosi over a massive economic package. Then, hours later, he tweeted "True!" in response to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell arguing for more financial help from Congress.

Huntsville/Redstone
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 38°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 35°
Decatur
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 38°
Fort Payne
Mostly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 42°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 835842

Reported Deaths: 12081
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby930851587
Davidson88030924
Knox49813624
Hamilton43402485
Rutherford42319420
Williamson27545216
Sumner23492341
Montgomery19623224
Wilson18472229
Out of TN1803295
Unassigned16760132
Sullivan16184287
Blount15180194
Bradley14599147
Washington14177242
Maury13211169
Sevier13166175
Putnam11168173
Madison10789241
Robertson9607130
Anderson8627171
Hamblen8498171
Greene7739152
Tipton7226104
Coffee6831121
Dickson6734109
Cumberland6568127
Carter6468156
Bedford6426129
Gibson6402144
McMinn636597
Roane6191102
Jefferson6073121
Loudon601669
Lawrence580686
Hawkins5781106
Monroe570995
Warren551381
Dyer5361104
Franklin508688
Fayette492178
Obion450296
Cheatham444454
Cocke443798
Rhea431275
Lincoln430663
Marshall411158
Campbell409662
Weakley402862
Giles395399
Henderson372975
Macon358077
Carroll357582
White354868
Hardin349766
Hardeman346464
Lauderdale314444
Henry312475
Marion309946
Claiborne306273
Scott305545
Overton296961
Wayne294334
Hickman280546
McNairy276854
DeKalb275653
Smith274838
Haywood268361
Grainger259149
Trousdale249022
Morgan246039
Fentress238546
Johnson231638
Bledsoe209711
Chester209451
Crockett201048
Polk200024
Unicoi194549
Cannon188931
Union186034
Grundy177933
Humphreys174221
Lake169526
Sequatchie166728
Benton163240
Decatur157338
Lewis155826
Meigs134823
Stewart130828
Jackson129935
Clay109031
Houston108533
Perry105728
Moore100017
Van Buren83421
Pickett75624
Hancock54912

Community Events