The fine line Kamala Harris walked during the debate

In a vice presidential debate marked by at least some adherence to the rules, Sen. Kamala Harris found it necessary to ask Vice President Mike Pence not to interrupt her multiple times. She reminded him — sometimes with a hand up, crossing guard-style, other times with raised eyebrows — “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.” At other moments as Pence spoke, Harris’ face flashed a catalogue of looks in his direction that seemed to communicate irritation, disbelief and distaste all at once, the kind of repertoire developed when one often cannot say everything one thinks.

Throughout, Harris worked to claim, then hold, new ground.

Harris, a senator who was the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general, is the first woman of color to run on a major party’s presidential ticket and therefore the first to appear in a vice presidential debate. She arrived Wednesday with a complex set of challenges, expectations and demands. And, in a set of criteria identified by experts interviewed before the debate, she met them.

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