Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t want a plexiglass divider for his side of the stage during Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate with Kamala Harris, according to his aides.
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told the Washington Post that their team does not view plexiglass dividers as medically necessary, given that the two debaters will be more than 12 feet apart. Short, who has led Pence’s debate preparations, told the Post that if Harris “wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable.”
Katie Miller, a spokesperson for Pence, confirmed Short’s comments to the Post. She did not respond to several subsequent messages asking for further detail.
Sabrina Singh, a Harris spokesperson said the Democratic vice-presidential nominee will respect the measures recommended by the Cleveland Clinic, which is advising the Commission on Presidential Debates on precautions against infection by the coronavirus.
“If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their Covid response is a failure,” Singh said.
The debate is scheduled to take place Wednesday at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City at 9 p.m. New York time.
The forum will be held two days after President Donald Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he was treated for Covid-19, the highly contagious virus that’s killed more than 210,000 Americans and infected nearly 7.5 million. Trump tested positive for the disease just days after his Sept. 29 debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Others in the president’s orbit have tested positive as well, including First Lady Melania Trump, aide Hope Hicks, his campaign manager Bill Stepien and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
On Tuesday, the vice president’s office released a memorandum from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. After consultation with Pence’s physician about his physical contacts and “serial negative testing results,” the memo said, “it is safe for the vice president to participate in the upcoming” debate.
Harris’ campaign said Tuesday that the Democrat had tested negative for coronavirus on Monday.
The Commission on Presidential Debates said Monday that plexiglass would be used at the debate. The commission also said that anyone in the hall who doesn’t wear a mask would be escorted out. At last week’s presidential debate, members of Trump’s family declined to wear masks in the debate hall.
The Commission on Presidential Debate didn’t immediately answer a message left for comment on Pence’s resistance to using a plexiglass for his side of the stage.
— With assistance by Tyler Pager
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