Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris are calling for unity as the election draws closer.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden talks about wearing a face mask as he speaks at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Biden’s speech in Gettysburg and Sen. Harris’ calls for unity during the vice-presidential debate are a stark contrast to the divisive campaign of President Trump and Vice President Pence.

One week after the contentious first presidential debate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a campaign speech about the current political divides in the United States.

The previous night, President Donald Trump had returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was treated for COVID-19 after refusing to wear a mask and maintain social distance throughout much of the pandemic. This comes after Trump has politicized nearly every scientific measure recommended to stop the spread of the coronavirus—from touting conspiracy theories and debunked medicine to discouraging mask wearing.

But Biden didn’t talk about that. Instead, his speech focused on the reason that he entered the presidential race in the first place: unity. And he issued that call in Gettysburg, the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War.

“There’s no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division. About how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment, we must come together as a nation,” Biden said. “I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans. I’ll work as hard for those who don’t support me, as those who do. That’s the job of a president; the duty to care for everyone.”

Pence Punts on Chance to Heal Divides During Vice Presidential Debate

Last night at the vice presidential debates in Salt Lake City, Utah, Vice President Mike Pence was given his own chance to tone down the divisive rhetoric offered by his running mate. But Pence chose not to do that, even on what would have been viewed as the easiest question in past debates: Would you support a peaceful transition of power if your ticket loses?

Pence made no such promise. Like the majority of questions asked of him at the debate, he ignored the substance and simply reiterated Trump-Pence talking points. In this case, he refused to say he would support a peaceful transition of power, and instead focused on baseless accusations of spying from the Obama administration.

“When Joe Biden was vice president of the United States, the FBI actually spied on President Trump and my campaign,” Pence falsely claimed. That lie was thoroughly debunked by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whose 400-plus page report found that the FBI sis not spy on the Trump campaign. 

Sen. Harris Countered Pence’s Anti-Democratic Stance With Proof of Bipartisan Support for Biden

Vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris was also asked what she and Biden would do if Trump refused to leave office after losing. Rather than double down on divisive rhetoric, Harris listed the prominent Republicans who have backed Biden in the election—including Cindy McCain, Colin Powell, and John Kasich— to demonstrate her ticket’s bipartisan appeal.

“I believe they are doing that because they know that Joe Biden has a deep, deep seated commitment to fight for our democracy, and to fight for the integrity of our democracy, and to bring integrity back to the White House,” Harris said. At the end, she closed with this message:

“Joe has a longstanding reputation of working across the aisle, and working in a bipartisan way,” she added. “Joe Biden has a history of lifting people up and fighting for their dignity. You have to know Joe’s story to know that Joe has known pain. He has known suffering. And he has known love.”

Trump Delivers Debunked Conspiracy Theories the Morning After Vice-Presidential Debate

On Thursday morning, just after the debate the night before, Trump did his first live interview since returning to the White Housefrom the hospital. During that interview he repeatedly called for the arrest and indictment of his political rivals.

“Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes—the greatest political crime in the history of our country—then we’ll get little satisfaction,” Trump told Fox Business. “That includes Obama and that includes Biden.” He ended the interview by bringing up his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her missing emails.

In a sign that the Trump campaign will not pivot to a message of unity in the final weeks before the election, the president ended that interview by shouting over the host. “Why isn’t Hillary Clinton being indicted?” he yelled as she tried to bring the interview to a close.