Trump’s Virus Diagnosis Places More Focus on Pence, Harris During VP Debate

CDC says Pence is cleared to attend debate on Wednesday night
October 7, 2020 Updated: October 7, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence was cleared by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to partake in Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), an event that is shaping up to draw more attention due to President Donald Trump’s CCP virus diagnosis.

A memo from the CDC was released by Pence’s office this week, coming after President Trump and several White House officials tested positive for the virus. CDC Director Robert Redfield signed off on a memo saying that Pence doesn’t pose a public health risk to partake in the debate in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The CDC had a consultation with White House physician, Dr. Jesse Shonau, regarding the Vice President’s possible exposure to persons with COVID-19. Based on the description of the movements of the Vice President from Dr. Shonau, the Vice President is not a close contact of any known persons with COVID-19, including the President,” Redfield wrote, referring to the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

With Trump working from the White House while under quarantine after contracting the virus, the debate between Pence and Harris is taking on an outsized role as compared with previous vice-presidential debates.

Pence and Harris are scheduled to take the stage at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City separated by plastic barriers for a 90-minute debate. Both Pence, 61, or Harris, 55, would be a heartbeat away from assuming the presidency, depending on the election’s outcome. How they handle themselves might be under scrutiny even more because of Trump’s health and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s advanced age.

Donald Trump And Joe Biden Participate In First Presidential Debate
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 29, 2020. (Win McNamee-Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republicans have frequently pointed out that should anything happen to Biden, who will be 78 if he takes office in January, Harris would assume the presidency.

Trump, 74, is the oldest president to seek reelection. Some medical experts have noted that due to his age and other health issues, he is in a particularly high-risk group for COVID-19.

Harris is a senator from California picked by Biden in August as his running mate. Pence is a former U.S. congressman and Indiana governor who has steadfastly defended Trump during his tumultuous presidency.

Pence, who was named as the head of Trump’s CCP virus task force earlier this year, is sure to highlight some of the administration’s successes in handling the pandemic, including therapeutics and work on a potential vaccine. Meanwhile, Harris, like Biden in the first presidential debate last month, will attempt to criticize the Trump administration’s handling of the virus.

The vice president will also try to highlight Harris’s comments that were made about Black Lives Matter-related riots and protests earlier this year, while saying that she and Biden have both capitulated to the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.

Reuters contributed to this report.