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Anderson: Waiter, there's a fly in my debate

Should we have been shocked that a fly on the head of Vice President Mike Pence was going to become an Associated Press story before the main story on the debate was sent out? Or the social media photos and jokes?

Of course not — it’s the world we live in. But it’s a world where news consumers take a small sound bite and run with it.

After the debate between Trump and Biden, I was wondering if there would be a second circus.

Pence opened up with this, “Susan, thank you. And I want to thank the commission and the University of Utah for hosting this event. And Senator Harris, it’s a privilege to be on the stage with you. Our nation has gone through a very challenging time this year.”

This is what sets him apart from a lot of other politicians.

I felt Kamala Harris, the VP pick of Biden, was coached up the wrong way. A smirk each time Pence says something you don’t agree with gets old after a while. I thought Harris looked more presidential when she listened intently and took notes for her rebuttals.

Harris’ strongest points were explaining the human side of politics and why she is running — not the constant bashing of Trump.

An example, when Harris said, “On the day I got the call from Joe Biden, it was actually a Zoom call. Asking me to serve with him on this ticket was probably one of the most memorable, memorable days in my life. I, you know, I thought about my mother, who came to the United States at the age of 19, gave birth to me at the age of 25 at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. And the thought that I’d be sitting here right now I know would make her proud, and she must be looking down on this. You know Joe and I were raised in a very similar way. We were raised with values that are about hard work, about the value and the dignity of public service and about the importance of fighting for the dignity of all people.”

Moments like this from Pence and Harris make it difficult for someone on the fence to make a decision. However, through two debates, we just have funny sound bites, stories and memes about a fly on Pence’s hair for two minutes and both sides claiming victory.

It’s crazy to believe today is 24 years and one day from the VP debate between the late Jack Kemp and Al Gore. Clinton-Gore defeated Dole-Kemp that November.

But Kemp’s comments should be listened to by the candidates in case another debate ever takes place.

Kemp said that night, “Bob Dole and myself do not see Al Gore and Bill Clinton as our enemy. We see them as our opponents. This is the greatest democracy in the world. People are watching not only throughout this country, but all over the world as to how this democracy can function with civility and respect, and decency and integrity.

Kemp, a Republican, added, “Clearly, Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said you serve your party best by serving the nation first. ... This is a democracy in which we have the freest press and the greatest First Amendment rights in the history of mankind. And Bob and I respect that. These issues will be aired, but they’ll be aired with dignity and respect, and, ultimately, leave it to the American people to make up their minds about who should be the leader of this country into the 21st Century.”

Kemp died in 2009. I hope dignity and respect did not die with him.

— John Anderson is the regional editor of the Longview News-Journal and Tyler Morning Telegraph. Email: janderson@tylerpaper.com . Twitter: @23johnanderson .

John is a two-time national columnist of the year. He has earned top AP awards for news, videos and sports writing and won the Thomas J. Bulson Investigative Journalism award. He has appeared on CNBC's American Greed, FOX News and CNN.

Today's Bible verse

“Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us ...”

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