Oct 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Harris and Pence will be separated by plexiglass at VP debate

Democratic U.S. Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) waves as she arrives at a voter mobilization drive-in event in Las Vegas.

Harris waves as she arrives at a voter mobilization drive-in event in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After several days of negotiations over safety precautions and logistics, Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence will be separated by plexiglass at the VP debate on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the move confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis has Democrats spooked about being anywhere near him or those in his orbit in the remaining days until the election, so they're scrambling to make last-minute adjustments.

Driving the news: The Commission on Presidential Debates approved the plexiglass on Monday, Politico first reported. There will also be plexiglass between the two candidates and moderator Susan Page of USA Today.

  • Last week, during the first debate for the South Carolina U.S. Senate race, Democrat Jaime Harrison put a plexiglass barrier between himself and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
  • Pence spokesperson Katie Miller told Axios in a statement: "If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it."

The big picture: The Harris/Biden campaign has been pushing the Commission to implement stricter safety measures at the subsequent debates since Trump's announcement late last week.

  • They were also successful in increasing the distance between Harris and Pence on Wednesday from 7 to 13 feet. (Trump and Joe Biden stood 13 feet apart at their debate.)
  • Democrats argue installing plexiglass and increasing the distance are two small measures the Commission can take to ensure their safety.
  • The recent COVID-19 infections are being taken seriously by Democrats, but they're especially unhappy that the Commission failed to implement their mask mandate at last week's debate, allowing some GOP audience members to watch without wearing masks.

Go deeper: Inside Kamala Harris' new debate strategy

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