Pence: "Can't wait" to debate Harris

I bet he’s looking forward to it too, and maybe even more than Mike Pence lets on here. Most of this interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity last night consists of standard campaign fare. Pence calls Kamala Harris the most liberal member of the Senate (true) and provides a rundown of Team Trump’s arguments against Harris and Joe Biden. Pence does a good job of laying out those arguments with his usual polish, as one would expect from an experienced campaigner.

It’s his enthusiasm for the debate where Pence’s polish gives way ever so slightly to chops-licking:

Vice President Pence said Wednesday he “can’t wait” to debate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), named this week as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate.

“I think she is a skilled debater, but I can’t wait to get to Salt Lake City and be on the stage with her,” Pence said in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity.

Pence said he wants to compare Biden’s record and the “radical left agenda,” which he argued Harris has embraced, with the “results of this president and this administration.”

Pence’s “skilled debater” is a sop to the media coverage of the last two days, and likely a bit of a sandbagging attempt, too. (Don’t expect the same approach from Donald Trump, needless to say, regarding either Biden or Harris.) Pence wants to build up some goodwill ahead of the debate, plus set Harris up as a worthy adversary as a way to gain even more traction from a debate win in the next few weeks.

Her record as a “skilled debater,” however, is less than convincing — even though media outlets continue to promote that narrative. Even the Democrats who relied on the primary debates last year didn’t get that impression from Harris. Thanks to her debate performances, Harris went from shoo-in to shown-out before the year even ended. Getting dressed down by Tulsi Gabbard twice and cratering in polling after both debate embarrassments does not reflect “skills,” except for a talent for surrendering advantages.

So yes, Pence has every reason to look forward to his debate against Harris, and Democrats have every reason to be worried about it. One has to wonder whether they grow so worried about it that they produce a pretext to avoid the confrontation. Stay tuned.