Decision 2020

Bay Area Reacts to VP Debate

NBC Universal, Inc.

Wednesday’s vice presidential debate was critical for many Bay Area voters left shaken by last week’s presidential matchup.

NBC Bay Area’s Robert Handa was at an outdoor watch party at Sunshine Tavern in Pleasanton where many people were present at the baseball playoffs earlier in the day.

The vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence was civil but had moments of tension. Cierra Johnson reports.

But when the debate came on, it got the crowd’s attention.

The viewers at Sunshine Tavern saw two very contrasting opponents, but one very common factor: both Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Mike Pence came out swinging, but both kept it a debate – instead of a debacle.

Some viewers were annoyed that the candidates did not stick to the debate format, sometimes speaking over the moderator.

“Some of it is important, some of it is garbage,” said a viewer. “But you’ve got to hear it anyway.”

There were also mixed reactions to Harris’s facial expressions.

“The facial expressions of Kamala Harris are kind of a positive…smiling kind of thing,” said Robert Rossi of Livermore.

Lisa Holley of Pleasanton didn’t agree.

“Her body language and facial expressions were inappropriate,” she said.

Viewers at a Pleasanton watch party largely agreed that Wednesday's vice presidential debate was more civil than last week's presidential debate, but most said that it did not change how they were planning to vote. Robert Handa reports.

A big question that had everyone split was who might be the best vice president to take over the presidency if necessary – but the people NBC Bay Area spoke to emphasized that their decision still comes down to the presidential candidate first – and nobody changed their mind.

“Trump is the answer to America,” said one viewer. “He’s the best president we’ve ever had.

“Kamala has been honest and forthright and Pence is kind of having a hard time justifying some of Trump’s moves,” another viewer said.

Nearly 100 people watching the debate on Zoom with Manny’s in San Francisco, many rooting for Bay Area native Harris, had mixed reactions about her performance.

“I think Kamala could have had a few more jabs,” one viewer said.

“I think it’s important she did stay very cool and maybe not aggressive enough but extremely professional,” said another.

University of San Francisco professor James Taylor said no one won the debate, but both candidates were able to make their case to the American people.

“I think Pence did a better job than people expected, but he borrowed from Donald Trump the constant talking tactic,” said Taylor.

Taylor said Senator Harris was holding back.

“We are less than 30 days out and they’re trying to land this campaign in a way that does not offend or lose voters,” he said.

Both campaigns are hoping to win undecided voters. Taylor said the content of the debate and the clear differences between the candidates about everything from COVID-19 to climate change may have an impact.

“It is going to influence some people to vote or discourage people because their issue was not addressed,” Taylor said.

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