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Harris vs. Pence: Vice presidential debate updates and analysis

Wednesday's vice presidential debate comes less than a week after Trump announced he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris faced off in a heated debate Wednesday night, their first and only matchup.

The 90-minute debate started shortly after 9 p.m. ET at the University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading more on the debate here.

The coronavirus pandemic was a prominent topic at the debate, which came less than a week after President Donald Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19. As head of the White House coronavirus task force, Pence has faced criticism over the administration's response to the pandemic.

Read highlights from the debate, including fact-checks, takeaways and who some experts think won.

Pence interrupts Harris again, claiming Biden will repeal the Trump tax cuts

Pence again interrupted Harris several times when she said that Biden would not raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000 a year. 

Pence appeared to say Biden would repeal the Trump tax cuts and Harris responded, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking. I’m speaking.” 

Pence continued to interrupt, saying, “Joe Biden said twice in the debate last week that he's going to repeal the Trump tax cuts. That was tax cuts that gave the average working family $2,000 with a tax break.”

“That is absolutely not true,” Harris said.

Analysis: White House *has* spared expenses in coronavirus relief

Pence just said he and Trump have “spared no expense” in helping Americans recover from the coronavirus.

Earlier this week, Trump told his aides to break off negotiations on a Covid-19 relief package. Then, Trump said he wants to negotiate a smaller package of aid.

All along, the White House and the Senate Republicans have fought House Democrats on precisely how much to spend — which has resulted in no money being spent since the CARES Act was enacted several months ago.

Pence congratulates Harris on the ‘historic nature’ of her nomination

Pence thanked Harris and Biden for expressing their concern for the president and he also congratulated her on the “historic nature” of her nomination as the first black woman vice presidential candidate of a major party. 

"Senator, I want to thank you and Joe Biden for your expressions of genuine concern. And I also want to congratulate you, as I did on that phone call, on the historic nature of your nomination,” he said. 

Harris, meanwhile, said that Biden has been transparent about his health while Trump has not.

Harris goes after Trump on his taxes

Talking about the difference between the two candidates, Harris touted Biden’s transparency and pivoted to the bombshell New York Times report that said the president paid only $750 in income taxes the year he won the presidency and again during his first year in office, and has not paid any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years. The president has denied that.

It was sort of a skillful pivot because the news the Times published may have gotten lost amid the chaotic presidential debate and news of the president becoming infected with Covid-19.

Plexiglass barriers aren't stopping the interruptions

Harris' facial expressions are a big hit on Twitter

Harris' facial expressions during Pence's defense of the administration's  pandemic response were a huge hit on Twitter. 

Harris says no to a Trump-endorsed vaccine

Harris needled Trump during a protracted discussion on the coronavirus and the development of a vaccine. 

"If the public health professionals — if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us to take it, I'll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I'm not taking it,” she said. 

It was a quip fueled by the criticism the administration has received for its response to the virus. But it also caused Pence to use it to take a swing at Harris, claiming that statement undermines public confidence in a vaccine and accusing her of playing politics.

Fact check: Trump 'minimized the seriousness' of the coronavirus

“They knew and they covered it up. The president said it was a hoax. They minimized the seriousness of it,” Harris said of the Trump administration's coronavirus response. Pence is the chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

This is mostly true. Trump did downplay the seriousness and dangers of the pandemic in the earliest days of the pandemic. Here are a sampling of his remarks:

In interviews with the journalist Bob Woodward, Trump revealed he knew the virus was deadly and admitted playing it down.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump told Woodward on Feb. 7, according to The Washington Post. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” 

In a March 19 interview, Trump acknowledged he’d been playing down the threat from the start.

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” 

But Harris misstates Trump’s use of the term hoax, which Trump invoked when he said Democrats “are politicizing the coronavirus.”

Asked a day after his "hoax" remark, Trump again said he was referring to Democrats’ actions.

Pence dodges question about any agreement with Trump on issue of presidential disability

Moderator Susan Page asked Pence if he has had a conversation or reached an agreement with Trump about “safeguards or procedures” when it comes to the issue of presidential disability given Trump’s age.

Pence did not answer the question and immediately came back to the coronavirus and the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.

Trump's not on stage, but the president is coming up a lot

Are the candidates staying on topic? We're tracking that, too. Follow along

What's a superspreader event?

The second question of the night has already hit on a major issue with the coronavirus pandemic: superspreader events

The question came in relation to the White House event — the ceremony to formally announce the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — that is now seen as one of the reasons numerous Republicans have been infected. These events are the focus of research by scientists who are finding that such events can have an outsize role in the spread of the coronavirus.