Harris-Pence debate: What you need to know, how to watch

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SALT LAKE CITY (NewsNation Now) —

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic opponent Sen. Kamala Harris are squaring off in Utah for the first and only vice presidential debate ahead of next month’s election.

The debate began with a focus on the coronavirus pandemic, then went into the role of the vice presidency. The two also discussed the economy, climate change and the state of China trade relations.

With President Donald Trump‘s health in question following his coronavirus diagnosis, the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City drew attention as a chance for voters to decide whether they trust the candidates to step into the presidency if required.

Extra safety precautions were taken to protect the candidates, organizers and the event’s attendees.

Pence and Harris appeared on stage more than 12 feet apart, separated by plexiglass barriers. No handshakes or physical greetings will be allowed.

Workers prepare on stage ahead of the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah October 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. – For once in a rollercoaster US election, Donald Trump and Joe Biden yield the spotlight to Vice President Mike Pence and the Democrat seeking his job — Kamala Harris — as they debate for the first time. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

All attendees, including members of the media, were required to get tested for COVID-19, and the Commission on Presidential Debates said anyone not wearing a mask would be “escorted out.” Organizers have said that a “small number” of ticketed guests will be inside the hall.

Earlier Story

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic opponent Sen. Kamala Harris will square off in Utah Wednesday night for the first and only vice presidential debate ahead of next month’s election.

With President Donald Trump’s health in question following his coronavirus diagnosis, the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City is drawing attention as a chance for voters to decide whether they trust the candidates to step into the presidency if required.

Extra safety precautions are being taken to protect the candidates, organizers and the event’s attendees.

Pence and Harris will appear on stage more than 12 feet apart, separated by plexiglass barriers. No handshakes or physical greetings will be allowed.

All attendees, including members of the media, will be required to get tested for COVID-19, and the Commission on Presidential Debates said anyone not wearing a mask would be “escorted out.” Organizers have said that a “small number” of ticketed guests will be inside the hall. Harris-Pence debate will have a plexiglass shield 

Pence, who was with Trump and others last week who have since tested positive, has repeatedly tested negative for the virus, and his staff and doctors insist he does not need to quarantine under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Harris has also tested negative for coronavirus ahead of the debate, the campaign said on Tuesday.

Pence’s team objected to Harris’ request for plexiglass barriers, arguing it was medically unnecessary. But the debates commission had already agreed to the barriers, and Pence’s aides said their presence wouldn’t dissuade him from attending the event.

Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said there is “zero risk” of the vice president pulling out of the debate over the plexiglass spat. He said Pence “will be there” because it’s “too important for the American people.”

Sabrina Singh, a spokesperson for Harris, said the California senator “will be at the debate, respecting the protections that the Cleveland Clinic has put in place to promote safety for all concerned.” The Cleveland Clinic serves as a health adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Pence tests negative for coronavirus, the day before the debate. 

Both vice presidential candidates spent Tuesday in Utah preparing.

The 90-minute debate, held at the University of Utah, will kick off at 9 p.m. ET, moderated by USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.

WETM 18 News will be providing full coverage live, as well as on MyTwinTiers.com and the 18 New Mobile app.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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