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When a fly stole the show at US VP debate

October 08, 2020 11:36 IST
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The first -- and only -- United States vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris is over.

It was a far more civil affair than last week's debacle between US President Donald Trump and former US Vice President Joe Biden. The tone for much of the 90 minutes was a marked contrast to last week's chaotic and bitter slam-fest between their running mates.

But in a year when nothing is normal, it was a fly which landed on Pence's head for two minutes and 20 seconds which became the breakout digital star of the night, earning an instant Twitter following and satirical memes.

US Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris opened the debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the issue of COVID-19. Harris accused Vice President Mike Pence of a COVID 'cover-up' in the opening minutes of the debate. However, Pence slapped back and said the plans the Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Harris were touting to deal with the coronavirus looked a lot like what the White House coronavirus taskforce was already doing. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

SEE: If Trump tells us to take COVID vaccine, I won't: Kamala Harris


Pence sought to tie Harris and, by extension, Biden to some of the most liberal policies in the Democratic Party when the two contenders debated climate policy. He tried to paint the Democratic duo as a threat to the jobs of blue-collar workers, a major voting bloc that helped put US President Trump in office in 2016.The vice president pointed out Harris co-sponsored the Green New Deal in the Senate and accused Democrats of wanting to ban fracking, the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into the ground so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas. Pence also defended the Trump administration's record on the climate. Trump, in his first six months in office, removed the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, which Biden has vowed to return the country to should he win in November. Photograph: Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images

Harris tore into Donald Trump's reported federal tax payments, claiming it's important to find out to whom the US president owes money. Pence stood up for his boss, claiming the US president has paid millions in taxes and shifted the discussion to the economy in general -- praising Trump for creating jobs both before being elected president when he was a businessman and after. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The debate saw the candidates seated on a plexiglass-protected stage, after US President Donald Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis. Harris is the first woman of colour to ever appear on a major party's presidential ticket. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

SEE: Kamala Harris calls Trump administration greatest failure


The tone for much of the 90 minutes was a marked contrast to last week's chaotic and bitter slam-fest between US President Trump and Joe Biden. Pence consistently flouted the time limits, leaving the moderator struggling, and prompted Harris to say, "Mr Vice President, I'm still speaking," when he interrupted her. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The sharpest exchanges of the entire debate came on the topic of race and law enforcement. As Trump did a week earlier, Pence tried to quickly pivot from a discussion of discrimination and excessive force by law enforcement into a condemnation of the sometimes violent protests that have occurred in US cities. He said he trusted the justice system and that suggesting the nation is systemically racist is an insult to the men and women in law enforcement. That set up Harris's most powerful rejoinder. "I will not sit here and be lectured by the vice-president on what it means to enforce the laws of this country," the former San Francisco prosecutor and California attorney general said curtly. She noted Trump's difficulties -- as recently as the debate last week -- in clearly and concisely condemning white supremacists, concluding "this is who we have as president". Photograph: Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images

A fly landed on Pence's head during the debate and remained there for two minutes and 20 seconds, which became a distraction for many viewers at home and a breakout digital star of the night. "Ok, this is a seriously important debate, but no one is gonna remember anything but that fly," tweeted a user named Sykersomatic. "That fly was in Pence's hair a long time. It should quarantine," former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander added, seemingly alluding to the rampant spread of the coronavirus through the White House's ranks. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Pool/Reuters

Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff and US Vice President Mike Pence his wife Karen Pence acknowledge the audience after the debate at the University of Utah. Photograph: Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images

Brandon Hudspeth watches a streaming broadcast of the vice presidential debate bin Dania Beach, Florida. For the current election, both candidates did their best to defend their running mate and land shots on the top of the opposing ticket. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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