Submitted on Friday, 10/9/2020, at 2:09 PM

In a piece for The Conversation, Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, associate provost and associate dean of the faculty, cites parallels between tactics used by Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris in the Oct. 7 debate to those used in the 1988 presidential race.

“Like that year’s Democratic presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, who famously said that the campaign was about competence not ideology, Harris went after what she described as the Trump administration’s incompetence …” writes Sarat. In response, Pence “borrowed a strategy of George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign and insisted that Biden and Harris represent just another, out-of-the-mainstream iteration of the Democrats tax, spend and regulate agenda.”

Sarat additionally compares the way Pence blamed the Obama-Biden administration for the Islamic State Group’s 2013 capture and murder of U.S. humanitarian Kayla Mueller to “Bush’s use of the so called Willie Horton ad to discredit Dukakis.”

The Conversation article also includes debate commentary from Cynthia Young, associate professor of African American studies at Pennsylvania State University.