Unlike its presidential predecessor, tonight’s event will likely resemble a debate in the standard sense. In his 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, Mike Pence remained almost aggressively cool, allowing Kaine to make more interruptions.
Pence also has the advantage that his campaign does not seem to be constrained by or even interested in facts. Kamala Harris has said that she has been preparing to answer for not only her own record, but also for Joe Biden’s. Reconciling her past as an aggressive prosecutor with her present political persona was an issue for Harris in the primaries, and could prove difficult for her tonight, particularly against an opponent who will almost certainly be less concerned about ensuring his answers correspond to reality.
Case in point: the plexiglass frames between the two candidates. Despite the fact that more people around Trump have tested positive for Covid-19 than in all of Taiwan over the past few days, the Pence campaign fought against having a barrier between the candidates. Finally, Katie Miller, a Pence spokesperson, conceded that if Harris wanted to be surrounded by a “fortress”, she could be. (Miller is the wife of Stephen Miller, whose tested positive for Covid-19 last night.)
The plexiglass serves as a reminder not only that we are, still, in a pandemic, but also of the transparency of Pence’s claim to be dealing with it in a responsible manner.