Pence’s debate guests preview focus on law and order

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Vice President Pence’s guests at Wednesday night’s debate highlight his expected focus on law and order and likely efforts to paint the country as unsafe should Democratic nominee Joe Biden win the presidency.

Pence’s guests include the parents of Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian worker killed by Islamic State terrorists; Ann Dorn, the widow of a retired police officer who was killed when a business in St. Louis was looted earlier this year; and Flora Westbrooks, whose small business was destroyed when protests following the police killing of George Floyd grew violent. 

Marsha and Carl Mueller spoke at the Republican National Convention in August and delivered a searing address in which they criticized the Obama administration for failing to do more to protect their daughter, who was taken captive in 2013 and killed in 2015.

Carl Mueller said in the speech that he believed his daughter would still be alive if President Trump were in office when she was captured. The Justice Department earlier Wednesday announced charges against two British citizens accused of being part of an Islamic State cell that beheaded Western hostages, including Mueller. 

Ann Dorn, who delivered another emotional speech at the GOP convention, spoke in vivid detail about the circumstances under which her husband was killed during protests against racial injustice that spiraled into rioting.

And Pence met with Westbrooks during a recent trip to Minneapolis to tour the site of her destroyed business.

Taken together, the guests telegraph how Pence is likely to tout the Trump administration’s support for law enforcement and calls for order in the streets. The president has frequently cast protests against racial injustice and police brutality as out-of-control rioting and anarchy, pointing to ongoing protests in places like Portland, Ore.

The Trump campaign has also previously targeted Harris and her staff for publicizing and donating to a bail relief fund that was used to set free people with criminal records in the wake of the Minneapolis demonstrations.

While polls show many Americans have unfavorable views of how some of the protests have played out, they also show that majorities disapprove of how Trump has handled race relations. 

Harris’s guests, by contrast, are less overtly political. Her campaign said Utah state Rep. Angela Romero, a longtime community organizer and working mother, will join the senator at Wednesday’s debate, as will Deborah Gatrell, a veteran and teacher who is running for Salt Lake County Council. Both are intended to highlight the economic and public health effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the campaign said.

The senator is likely to zero in on Pence’s role as the head of the White House coronavirus task force given the pandemic has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States and infected 7.5 million.

Tags 2020 Debates 2020 vice presidential debate Donald Trump Joe Biden

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