Across the great divider: Pence and Harris at odds over plexiglass at Utah debate
Vice President Mike Pence and Kamala Harris are at loggerheads over what precautions should be taken at Wednesday’s vice presidential debate in Utah, with Pence’s team now arguing plexiglass barriers are not necessary.
The Biden-Harris campaign has been pushing for last-minute changes to the Salt Lake City event after President Trump and a dozen of his associates tested positive for COVID-19, requesting the barriers and 12 feet of distance between the two candidates on stage.
Pence has repeatedly tested negative for the disease but critics of the administration say the debate should be postponed because the 61-year-old veep could be unwittingly carrying the deadly respiratory bug.
On Monday evening, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that they would assemble plexiglass between Pence, Harris and the debate’s moderator to mitigate the risk of potential infection.
But Pence’s spokesman Mark Short told the Washington Post on Tuesday that the vice president didn’t want a barrier or think it necessary with the 13 feet of social distancing, up from seven feet.
“If she wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable,” Short said of Harris. “It’s not needed.”
Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller also shot-down the measure on Monday, telling Politico: “If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it.”
It’s not the first time plexiglass has been used during a debate: Jaime Harrison, who is challenging GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham for his South Carolina seat, also erected a barrier around himself during their show-down on Saturday night.
The final design of Wednesday evening’s VP debate stage is yet to be announced.
Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden were also spaced six feet apart during their chaotic face-to-face match-up in Cleveland, Ohio last week before the commander-in-chief tested positive for COVID-19.
The president’s diagnosis has plunged the remaining month of the presidential election into doubt but on Tuesday morning, Trump said he was looking forward to his second debate with Biden in Miami on Oct. 15.
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