AP FACT CHECK: Pence echoes Trump misfires in VP debate

Vice President Mike Pence speaks as Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Justin Sullivan/Pool via AP)
Vice President Mike Pence speaks as Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Justin Sullivan/Pool via AP) (2020 Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Although more buttoned-up on the stage than his boss, Vice President Mike Pence nevertheless echoed many of President Donald Trump’s falsehoods Wednesday in the one and only debate with Democratic rival Kamala Harris.

Pence muddied the reality on the pandemic, asserted Trump respects the science on climate change when actually the president mocks it, overstated the threat of voting fraud and misrepresented the Russia investigation in the Salt Lake City debate.

Harris got tangled in tax policy at one point and misleadingly suggested that Trump branded the coronavirus a hoax.

Altogether, the debate wasn’t the madhouse matchup of Trump vs. Joe Biden last week. But there were plenty of distortions. A sampling:

ECONOMY

PENCE: “Joe Biden wants to go back to the economic surrender to China, that when we took office, half of our international trade deficit was with China alone. And Joe Biden wants to repeal all of the tariffs that President Trump put into effect to fight for American jobs and American workers.”

THE FACTS: The tariffs were not the win claimed by Pence.

For starters, tariffs are taxes that consumers and businesses pay through higher prices. So Pence is defending tax increases. The tariffs against China did cause the trade deficit in goods with China to fall in 2019. But that’s a pyrrhic victory at best as overall U.S. economic growth slowed from 3% to 2.2% because of the trade uncertainty.