Newswire : Harris and Pence spar over economy and race in VP debate

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Vice President Mike Pence effectively evaded question after question and claimed that there’s no systemic racism in America during the first and only 2020 debate between him and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Separated by plexiglass and distanced by more than 12 feet, the two contestants battled over topics ranging from the coronavirus, health care, and climate change.
“Let’s talk about respecting the American people. You respect the American people when you tell them the truth,” Harris told Pence, who responded that he and President Donald Trump had always put the health of Americans first.
Stricken ill by the virus, Trump admitted to Journalist Bob Woodward that he hid the pandemic’s seriousness from the American people.
“The President said it was a hoax,” Harris remarked.
With regularity, Pence went over time and moderator Susan Page of USA Today, repeatedly admonished him, often to no avail.
While the Oct. 7 contest didn’t present as the disaster that was the first presidential debate late last month, it still lacked much substance because both candidates failed to answer some direct questions.
When the topic turned to race and the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Harris reminded the audience of Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists.
At the same time, Pence attacked protestors as “rioters and looters.”
“Then he said, when pressed, ‘stand back, stand by,’ and this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump’s,” Harris declared about the president’s awkward statement during his debate with Democrat Joe Biden.
“He called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He instituted as his first act a Muslim ban,” Harris said.
Pence responded by noting that Trump’s grandchildren are Jewish.
He said Breonna Taylor’s family has his sympathy and predicted the loved ones of George Floyd would receive justice.
“Our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life,” Pence said. “And the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies. But I trust our justice system.”
Despite a troubling September jobs report and Trump shutting off COVID-19 relief talks that could help ailing businesses, municipalities, and citizens, Pence claimed the Trump administration had added millions of jobs, and the economy is on the upswing.
“When President Trump and I took office, America had gone through the slowest economic recovery since the great depression. We’re going through a pandemic that lost 22 million jobs at the height, we’ve already added back 11.6 million jobs,” Pence claimed.
Attempting to become the first African American and woman vice president, Harris told viewers that she and Biden expect to win the election.
Asked about Trump’s repeated refusal to agree to a peaceful transfer of power, Harris indicated that she and Biden are prepared for such a scenario.
“Joe and I are particularly proud of the coalition that we have built around our campaign. We probably have one of the broadest coalitions of folks that you’ve ever seen in a presidential race,” Harris stated.
“It is within our power, and if we use our society, and we use our voice, we will win.” She then added, “And we will not let anyone subvert our democracy.”

Newswire: Trump Administration officials to Black America: ‘Coronavirus Pandemic is your fault’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

According to a top official in President Donald Trump’s administration, the poor health of African Americans is the primary reason for the nation’s devastatingly high coronavirus deaths.
As the president tepidly tries to win Black voter support by touting his record with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and prison reform, Trump and his top lieutenants continue to alienate African Americans.
In a CNN interview, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar attributed the high coronavirus death rate to unhealthy African Americans.
Azar claimed that Black and minority communities have higher comorbidities like underlying health issues. “Unfortunately, the American population is very diverse,” Azar stated.
“[America] is a population with significant unhealthy comorbidities that do make many individuals in our communities,” he presumed.
“In particular, African American, minority communities – are at risk here because of significant underlying disease, health disparities and disease co-morbidities. And that is an unfortunate legacy in our health care system that we certainly do need to address,” Azar pronounced.
The interview occurred immediately after Trump again attacked former President Barack Obama – the nation’s only African American president.
Trump accused Obama of unjustly targeting his associates in what he calls “Obamagate,” and he called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to haul in Obama to testify in hearings about the origins of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
However, Trump has yet to explain what crime he thinks Obama had committed.
The administration’s rhetoric left social media users angered. “This whole Trump team is worse than worthless,” one Twitter use wrote, while many others noted in their commentaries that “Racism is non-stop in The Trump administration.”
“Blaming the 100,000+ human beings who have been killed by Covid-19 for their fate “is the most disgusting deflection yet from an administration that was asleep at the switch,” Laurence Tribe, a legal scholar and Harvard Law professor, tweeted.
“This whole Trump team is worse than worthless.”
Several reports indicate that minority communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.
According to statistics, as of May 1, African Americans made up 32 percent of the coronavirus deaths in Wisconsin, even though they only make up 6.7 percent of the population.
Places like Michigan and Missouri, where African Americans account for roughly 40 percent of coronavirus deaths, comprise just 14 percent and 12 percent of the population, respectively.
There are more than 1.87 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, and more than 108,000 people have died in the U.S. Reportedly, more than 20 percent of the deaths are African Americans despite the Black population standing at roughly 13 percent.
“I don’t believe [Trump] likes or respects Black or brown people from his treatment and comments of Hispanics, caging children and babies, and the way he’s treated Puerto Rico and throwing paper towels at people during the Hurricane,” Carol Gee, author of “The Venus Chronicles,” and “If Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” told NNPA Newswire in an email.
“All of his remarks and actions toward nonwhites tell the real story,” Gee stated. “His movement to attract Black voters is only about winning the re-election. His prison reform and the release of [certain] black women, and his supposed embrace of Kanye West, is all just for show.”
Attempts to get a comment from the White House by the Black Press of America were met with a usual no response.
NNPA Newswire has repeatedly reached out to the White House requesting the President, Vice President Mike Pence, and top administration staff to provide direct messages to Black America.
White House officials have responded by only asking that the NNPA report favorably on Trump-backed initiatives they believe is proof enough that Trump has done a lot for African Americans.
“I’ll tell you what Trump has done,” Dominick Carter, an HBCU student, told NNPA Newswire in an email. “He’s dangled carrots and thrown out breadcrumbs and thinks we should be grateful. That we should be happy that master has fed the slaves today.”

Newswire : Pastor blasts Trump’s ‘Shithole’ comments in front of Mike Pence

By Nina Golgowski, Huffington Post

Vice President Mike Pence reportedly got an earful at church on Sunday, when a pastor blasted President Donald Trump’s reported disparagement of Haiti and African countries.
Pence and his wife, Karen, were guests at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, a historically black church in Largo, Maryland. The church’s pastor, Maurice Watson, told his congregation that he felt “led by God” to speak out against the president’s comments, which he called “dehumanizing” and “ugly.”
Pastor Maurice Watson of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Maryland, spoke out against comments that Donald Trump allegedly made against Haitians and Africans this week.
Trump reportedly told lawmakers last Thursday that he preferred immigrants from places like Norway instead of “shithole countries” like Haiti and nations in Africa ― remarks the president has subsequently denied.
Watson noted that many of his congregants come from Haiti and Africa. “I stand today as your pastor to vehemently denounce and reject any such characterizations of the nations of Africa and of our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” Watson said as the audience stood and clapped, according to a video posted to the church’s Facebook page.
“And I further say: Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”
Local station WUSA-TV reported that Pence was red-faced during the sermon. The vice president’s office disputed that description to The Associated Press on Monday.

Billionaire campaign finance maven Betsy DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Betsy DeVos as education secretary, approving the beleaguered nominee “with the help of a historic tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence,” reports The New York Times:
It was the first time that a vice president has been summoned to the Capitol to break a tie on a cabinet nomination, according to the Senate historian. Taking the gavel as the vote deadlocked at 50-50, Mr. Pence, a former member of the House, declared his vote for Ms. DeVos before announcing that Mr. Trump’s nominee for education secretary had been confirmed.
Here are some of the best Twitter reactions to the confirmation of DeVos, who as The Times notes, “has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system.” NJ Senator Cory Booker pointed out that DeVos “did not attend public schools herself, did not send her children to public schools and has never taught in a public school”.
At the Congressional hearings on her confirmation, it was also pointed out that neither she nor her children had ever applied for a Pell grant or student loan. As Secretary of Education she will be administering these and many other education programs that she knows little about.
Critics protested the nomination because daughter-in-law of Amway cofounder Richard DeVos—who Forbes estimates is worth $5.1 billion––has had little-to-no involvement in the nation’s public schools. In the past several election cycles her family gave $200 million in campaign contributions to Republican Senate members, including four Senators who served on the committee that confirmed her.