WASHINGTON — Let’s be honest: both candidates at last night’s vice-presidential debate refused to answer pretty simple questions.
And those non-answers spoke volumes about the issues they didn’t want to discuss or highlight.
For Vice President Mike Pence, he ducked questions about transparency on President Trump’s health. ("The American people have a right to know about the health and well-being of their president, and we'll continue to do that.")
About what he’d recommend his home state of Indiana do on abortion if Roe v. Wade is struck down. (Instead, he talked about Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and what he alleged were Democratic attacks on her faith.)
About how a Trump administration would protect those with pre-existing conditions if Obamacare is overturned. (Instead, Pence discussed the Supreme Court and his personal opposition to abortion.)
And about what his role would be if Joe Biden wins the election, but Trump tries to contest it. (“I think we're going to win this election. President Trump and I are fighting every day in courthouses to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from changing the rules and creating this universal mail-in voting that will create a massive opportunity for voter fraud.”)
For her part, Kamala Harris avoided questions about if she and Biden would seek to add more Supreme Court seats if Amy Coney Barrett is put on the court before the election. (“Do you know that of the 50 people who President Trump appointed to the Court of Appeals for lifetime appointments, not one is Black? This is what they've been doing. You want to talk about packing a court, let's have that discussion,” Harris answered.)
And she sidestepped a question about her team’s stance towards the Green New Deal. (Instead, Harris stressed her team wouldn’t ban fracking, would raise taxes only on Americans making more than $400,000, and investing in renewable energy.)
Want to know what each side sees as its liabilities? Pay attention to the questions they chose not to answer.
Tweet of the day
Commission says next debate will be virtual
Trump says he won’t participate: Here’s the breaking news after last night’s debate: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday morning that the next debate — the town-hall format featuring the presidential candidates — will be virtual.
But Trump responded in an interview on Fox Business News that he wouldn’t participate: “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate."
As for the Biden camp, they released a statement saying they would participate, per NBC’s Mike Memoli.
Data Download: The numbers you need to know today
7,590,183: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 57,486 more than yesterday morning.)
213,109: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,039 more than yesterday morning.)
111.08 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.
26: The number of Trump campaign and administration officials and contacts known to have tested positive for Covid so far, according to an NBC News tally.
16 and 9: The number of times Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, respectively, interrupted at the debate last night when it was not their turn to speak, according to an NBC News count.
2020 Vision: Cunningham apologizes
At an event Wednesday night, North Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Cal Cunningham addressed – and apologized for — the sexual text messages of his that became public, NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
“Before we get into the issues that most affect this campaign. I want you to hear something directly from me. I am deeply sorry for the hurt that I had caused in my personal life. And I also apologize to all of you. And I hope each of you watching at home, will accept this sincere apology,” he said.
And Cunningham tried to turn the tables on GOP opponent Sen. Thom Tillis.
“Because Tom Tillis knows that he is losing and knows that we are winning. He has now resorted to trying to make this campaign about something other than the issues. But we know. I know this campaign is about your hopes and your dreams, your IRA for your kids to safely attend school, and your drive to reopen your small business. That's why we fight.”
This entire scandal has put this key winnable Dem race into the air. Does it cost Cunningham and the Democrats? Or, in this Trump Era, do these types of scandals no longer pack the punch they once used to?
On the campaign trail today
After the debate, Mike Pence stumps in Nevada and Arizona. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaign together in Phoenix, Ariz.
Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar
Today’s Ad Watch takes a look at the mess in North Carolina where the GOP-aligned Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than a million dollars on a television ad attacking Cunningham over his scandal.
And now Republican Sen. Thom Tillis’ campaign released a new spot on social media (that could likely end up on airwaves) that serves as a supercut of all Cunningham’s bad press.
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play
NBC’s Monica Alba reports the latest from Trump World: “With only 27 days until the election, President Trump is eager to get back on the trail, and his re-election campaign is already discussing possible events for next week, according to a person familiar with the planning."
However, it’s unclear when physicians will clear President Trump to leave the White House, and since we don’t know the last time President Trump tested negative for the coronavirus, it’s difficult to determine when the president would be outside of the contagious window.
The Lid: Fear and loathing
Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at whether Americans agree with Trump’s sentiment that they should “not be afraid” of coronavirus.
ICYMI: What else is happening in the world
Here’s Alex Seitz-Wald’s take on a vice presidential debate that was much more low key than last week’s clash.
What was true and what was false in last night’s debate?
Trump asked Walter Reed doctors to sign non-disclosure agreements in 2019, NBC’s Carol Lee and Courtney Kube report.
The head of White House security has tested positive for coronavirus.
A virus surge among Orthodox Jews is close to becoming a crisis in New York.
How worrisome should mail-in ballot mix-ups be?
Lindsey Graham is hanging on tight in South Carolina, Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
New guidance from DOJ could amplify accusations of voter fraud.