VP debate ends with poignant question from 8th grader on uniting a divided nation

A poignant inquiry from a Utah eighth grader was the final question in the closing moments of the 2020 vice presidential debate Wednesday. 

The question, posed by Brecklynn Brown, a student at Springville Junior High, sought to have both Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris explain how they can lead as examples in uniting a polarized nation.

USA TODAY’s Susan Page, the debate’s moderator, read the question aloud to Pence and Harris.

“When I watch the news, all I see is arguing between Democrats and Republicans,” Brown’s question began. “When I watch the news, all I see is citizen fighting against citizen. When I watch the news, all I see is two candidates from opposing parties try to tear each other down. If our leaders can’t get along, how are our citizens supposed to get along?”

Brown’s question concluded, “Your examples could make all the difference to bring us together.” 

Pence responded to the question by praising what he called a “free and open debate” that he said is what makes the United States of America “the most free and prosperous country in the history in the world.” 

“I would tell you, don’t assume that what you’re seeing on your local news networks is synonymous with the American people,” Pence said. 
He went on to cite the relationship between former Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who he said “were on polar opposites.”  

“The two of them and their families were the very closest of friends,” Pence said. “When the debate is over, we come together as Americans.”

Harris praised Brown, saying that her question represents “who we are and who we should be.”

She spoke on her relationship with her running mate Joe Biden and their unified message against hate in America, citing Biden’s ability to “work across the aisle.” 

“That’s what he’s going to do as president,” Harris said. “Joe Biden has a history of lifting people up and fighting for their dignity.”