Earlier this week, Katie Miller, a spokesperson for Vice President Pence, mocked Sen Kamala Harris’ request for extra covid safety precautions like a plexiglass divider in Wednesday’s upcoming debate.
“If Sen. Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it,” Miller said on Monday.
A day later, her husband, Stephen Miller, a top advisor to the president, tested positive for coronavirus himself and said he is quarantining, part of a larger outbreak sweeping across the White House.
The University of Utah, which is hosting the debate, has a policy requiring individuals who are knowingly exposed to coronavirus to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Katie Miller traveled to Salt Lake City to assist the Vice President in advance of the debate. Commission on Presidential Debates co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. told the Washington Post on Tuesday a decision hadn’t been reached about how to handle Miller’s potential exposure.
“At this point in time, we have no position,” he said. “We will find out in the morning.”
On Monday, the campaigns and the commission agreed to install plexiglass barriers between Sen Harris and Vice President Pence during the debate, but Trump campaign officials quickly began casting doubt on the need for them, much as they have previously doubted the need for masks.
“If she wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable,” Marc Short, Mr Pence’s chief of staff said on Monday. “It’s not needed.”
The Biden-Harris campaign responded that these comments were irresponsible.
“They should want to make sure not just Kamala Harris and Mike Pence’s lives are safe and protected, but also the moderators, and their families, and the families and the friends who are going to be watching,” Karine Jean-Pierre, chief of staff for Ms Harris told CNN on Tuesday.
“It is shameful that Mike Pence, who is in charge of [the White House coronavirus] task force, is complaining and his team is complaining about this.”
The Trump and Biden campaigns have both expressed their intention to continue on with the remaining two debates if possible, where safety protocols will be in the spotlight alongside the debaters.
Members of Mr Trump’s family and cabinet were spotted without masks at the first debate, despite rules that all audience members wear one.
The commission is reportedly considering a potential virtual format for the remaining debates.