The first and only vice presidential debate between California Sen. Kamala Harris and VP Mike Pence is still on for Wednesday at the University of Utah, but the candidates literally won’t be within spitting distance of each other.
As President Donald Trump prepares to leave Walter Reed Medical Center today amid his bout with coronavirus, teams for Harris and Pence have agreed to a plexiglass barrier between them onstage for the debate. In addition, the recent spread of the potentially fatal virus at the White House has caused the campaigns to agree to their respective candidates standing 13 feet apart during Wednesday’s nationally televised event.
Previously, Pence and Harris were to be seven feet apart, as Trump and Joe Biden were at what may end up being their first and only debate last week. Two days later, Trump revealed he and First Lady Milania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and seen over 7.4 million confirmed cases.
Suspected by many to have originated out of the September 26 Rose Garden event announcing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s positive test came as many in his inner circle and at least three senators also were infected.
Pence said Friday that he and his wife Karen had tested negative. Harris, who is also tested often, also come back with a negative result, as has Biden. Both Democrats were out on the campaign trail Monday with the former VP participating in a NBC News town hall tonight.
The debate safety measures announced today come after consultation over the weekend between the campaigns, the Commission on Presidential Debates and the protocol-setting Cleveland Clinic. Not that Team Pence could stop themselves from taking the low road. “If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it,” VP spokeswoman and previous COVID sufferer Katie Miller told reporters today in a sign of grace in action.
It’s worth noting that VP debate moderator and USA Today Washington DC Bureau Chief Susan Page will be behind a plexiglass barrier too Wednesday.
The 90-minute VP debate will be covered live on all the networks, the cable newsers, online and other outlets. The second POTUS debate is still set for October 15, thought it looks increasingly like it may see Trump and Biden in separate rooms or even sparring virtually. No word on whether the October 22 POTUS debate is still on.
The election is set for November 3.
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