Pence and Harris will be separated by plexiglas at Utah VP debate
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence and opponent Kamala Harris will duke it out between a sheet of plexiglas and 13 feet of social distancing at their first and only debate in Utah on Wednesday.
The last-minute changes were approved by the Commission on Presidential Debates amid mounting concerns of COVID-19 transmission after President Trump and at least a dozen associates and White House staffers contracted the virus, Politico reported.
While Pence has not tested positive for COVID-19, critics of the administration called for the Utah showdown to be delayed out of fear that the veep could be unwittingly carrying the virus.
The debate will go ahead as planned but under lobbying for the Biden-Harris campaign, the candidates will now sit 13 feet apart instead of the originally planned seven feet.
According to the Politico report, Pence’s campaign opposed the decision to install plexiglas, a safety measure that was missing from Trump’s chaotic show-down with Joe Biden in Cleveland last week.
President Trump instructed Pence to head to Utah for his first debate with Harris as the White House was confronting a growing coronavirus outbreak.
“He told me to head to Utah and we are looking very much forward to the vice presidential debate,” Pence told reporters on Monday afternoon before boarding Air Force Two for a flight to Salt Lake City.
Pence said the instructions came from Trump over a phone call from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he will be discharged on Monday evening following a three-night stay.
“I spoke to the president a little while back and he sounded great,” he said. “President Trump is going home tonight and we are headed to Utah.”
The future of the 2020 presidential campaign and its debates were plunged into doubt on Friday when Trump announced that he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID-19.
Since then, more than a dozen Trump associates and White House employees have also contracted the virus.
On Monday, the Trump campaign said the president still intended to debate Joe Biden in Miami on Oct. 15 despite being hospitalized.
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