The Note: Pence charged with sorting out Trump-centered chaos at VP debate

Pence is cast as the defender of Trumpian chaos.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

If Wednesday night showcases Sen. Kamala Harris the prosecutor, consider the new evidence added to her case.

And if Vice President Mike Pence is cast as the best explainer and defender of Trumpism, consider how much harder his job has become.

Enter the number twos -- in a campaign where there's seldom been more attention on the potential need for their services.

Pre-debate squabbles in Salt Lake City include fighting over plexiglass partitions and more space between the candidates to accommodate social distancing. What's really separating the vice-presidential candidates, though, are campaigns of the men at the top of the ticket -- who have distinct styles that are nothing like those of their running mates or each other.

Four years ago, it was Pence holding steady and calm in a debate with a feisty Sen. Tim Kaine, who faced blowback for his interruptions in a mild-mannered affair. Just last year, Harris' main debate opponent was the man she now shares a ticket with -- bringing set-piece attacks that appeared to nick former Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, amid the chaos of the moment and the relative stability of the campaign, Harris will bring a case that Pence might be uniquely equipped to defend.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Women's rights and advocacy organizations on the left have been working together to promote Harris's candidacy. This week they are gearing up too against what they fear will be sexist or otherwise biased attacks during the vice presidential debate Wednesday.

The long list of organizations, including BlackPAC, Color of Change PAC, EMILY's LIST WOMEN VOTE!, Planned Parenthood Votes! and UltraViolet say they are working in tandem on messaging and outreach. On the phone with ABC News, Shaunna Thomas, the head of UltraViolet, argued that female politicians are still more likely to face attacks -- subtle as they may be -- about their qualifications, trustworthiness and character. She said the coalition was planning to release content on social media and around neighborhoods Wednesday with an eye toward women of color in battleground states.

They want to underscore again the historic nature of the ticket.

"A lot of people are excited about this long overdue and historic moment for women of color and the whole country. Never has a woman of color served in such a position ... and it's time," she said.

The coordinated push comes as Biden again leaned into the issue of race and inequity in America on Tuesday during his event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

"I think about what it takes for a Black person to love America that has a deep love for this country that has -- for far too long -- never been recognized," he said on the historic Civil War battlefield after talking about his conversations with the families of Black Americans whose loved ones have been killed by police.

The TIP with Kelsey Walsh

All eyes are on North Carolina's Senate race as its outcome is crucial to gaining a majority in the Republican-led chamber. Heading into October, the race has been extremely close with polls swinging both ways and each party investing heavily. However, last Friday in an 11th-hour moment, the race between Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham took a dramatic turn, halting campaign movement within both parties.

Tillis, a member of the Judiciary Committee, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Justice Amy Coney Barrett. He's been forced to quarantine and plans to campaign remotely, as well as attend Judiciary hearings via Zoom.

Cunningham admitted to an extramarital relationship with a public relations strategist. The candidate, who has campaigned on his character, said in a statement, "I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry." As more allegations arise, Cunningham and his campaign have remained silent. On Monday evening, his campaign canceled a town hall -- which would have been the first time he faced constituents' questions directly since the scandal erupted. Both the North Carolina Democratic Party and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are standing behind Cunningham.

In FiveThirtyEight's latest forecast, Cunningham is slightly favored to win, but it remains unknown what each scenario will look like for both candidates as they head into the final days of the election.


With plexiglass and more than 12 feet of distance separating them, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Sen. Kamala Harris of California will debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night in the first and only one-on-one matchup between the vice presidential candidates. Check here for live updates leading up to and throughout the debate.

Here's a state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Luis Martinez, who bring us the latest on President Donald Trump's health as top military leaders enter self-quarantine. Then, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein tees up Wednesday night's vice presidential debate. And ABC News' Kendall Karson explains why Florida was pressured to extend its voter registration deadline.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton joins Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on the podcast as President Donald Trump continues to be treated for COVID-19 at the White House following three days at Walter Reed Medical Center.


  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will appear on ABC's "The View" at 11 a.m.
  • The House Oversight Committee holds a hearing entitled, "IRS in the Pandemic," and will hear testimony from Erin M. Collins, a national taxpayer advocate at the Taxpayer Advocate Service, Vijay D'Souza, director of information technology and cybersecurity at the Government Accountability Office, and Charles Rettig, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service at 10 a.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden participates in a virtual discussion about the future of outdoor recreation, conservation, climate action, and Indian country at 1:20 p.m.
  • ABC News will have special primetime coverage of the first and only vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Coverage begins on ABC News Live at 7 p.m. Network coverage begins at 8 p.m. with a one-hour special, “Pence vs. Harris: The Vice Presidential Debate - A Special Edition of 20/20.” And the debate begins at 9 p.m.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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