The Hill's 12:30 Report: Campaigns react to virtual debate announcement

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*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Second presidential debate will be virtual |  Trump says he will not participate |  Calls Harris a ‘monster’ in morning interview |  Biden agrees to going virtual |  Debate takeaways |  Sights and sounds |  Fly on Pence’s head goes viral |  Campaign sells fly swatters |  DC apartment building with speakeasy, bowling alley



I can’t think of a more fitting, symbolic end to the 2020 campaign season — a Zoom presidential debate:



The Commission on Presidential Debates announced this morning that next week’s second debate between President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will be virtual.

Why: “to protect the health and safety of all involved.”


President Trump called into Fox Business this morning, announcing that he will not participate in a virtual debate.

In Trump’s words: “I’m not going to waste my time with a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate, that is ridiculous.” 

Trump’s reasoning: “They are trying to protect Biden.” 

Yes, but keep in mindPresident Trump recently tested positive — and was hospitalized — for COVID-19.

Watch Trump’s full response to a virtual debate


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has agreed to the virtual debate. 

Via CNN’s Dan Merica, here’s a statement from the Biden campaign: "Vice President BidenJoe BidenRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Dems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing MORE looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump's failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression."


Trump called Harris a ‘monster’: “This monster that was on stage with Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll MORE, who destroyed her last night, by the way. This monster, she says, ‘no no, there won’t be fracking,’ there won’t be this. Everything she said is a lie.” 

It’s Thursday! We’re almost there! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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Well, that debate was so much ... quieter:

Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet MORE (D-Calif.) faced off in a much different debate than last week’s WWE Tuesday Night SmackDown.


  1. Harris hit her goals— “It wasn’t a perfect performance … but, overall, Harris scored a win, when all she needed was to avoid a clear defeat.” 
  2. Pence did his job— “[Pence] is an infinitely more orthodox politician than Trump, and he showed this.” 
  3. Whole lotta dodging going on— “The two candidates dodged a lot of questions and did not really face any significant ramifications for doing so.” 
  4. The fly won— “There was no question about the most viral moment of the night.”
  5. No game changer— “Neither candidate scored a knock-out. Neither committed a career-defining gaffe.” 


Details for each takeaway


View from inside the room 

Why yes, yes it does: “it looks like they're on jeopardy” (from BuzzFeed’s Katherine Miller 

Which American flag pin do you like better?

Just imagine Kamala Harris in last week’s debate: A talked-about moment of the night is when Harris raised her voice and said, “I’m speaking” to Pence. Watch 

That LOOK 

Tidbit: “Pence [congratulated] Harris on the ‘historic nature’ of her VP nomination. (Trump has not once remarked on the historic nature of the pick, instead attacking Harris with racist & sexist tropes right out the gate).” (Via CNN’s Jeremy Diamond

Yes.: The Washington Post’s Matt Viser noticed, “It seems pretty clear that neither Mike Pence nor Kamala Harris wants to talk too much in depth about the health records of the septuagenarians at the top of their tickets.” 

Pence said the Rose Garden event was strictly outdoors: Here’s a photo of the indoor portion:

Welp, this was the gist of the debate: “Question: How are you going to protect pre-existing conditions, Mr. VP? 

Pence: The Democrats are going to pack the Supreme Court 

Harris: Trump hasn't appointed one black person to the circuit courts” (from NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell) 

Also this: “Susan Page: Insightful question

Candidate: That’s a great question. Please allow me to answer it with a different answer I’ve memorized.” (from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tal Kopan

Ahh, well played:  




We all knew this was bound to happen: The fly has its own Twitter account now… 






Hahaha, that is not where I expected this video to go: 






From journalist Megyn Kelly: “Pence is so much better than Trump at defending Trump.”

From Politico’s John Bresnahan: “Susan Page’s questions are excellent.”

From NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell: “Mike Pence appears to be delivering his prepared points and issues than he wants to be sure are included rather than responding to the question put to him.” 

Lol — From The New York Times’s Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “[Harris] talks to [Pence] the way I talk to my children when I'm angry but someone is watching.”

From The Hill’s Reid Wilson: “I worried very much that was going to end with a ‘please say something nice about your opponent.’ Which is and always will be a stupid question.” 

Ughhhh, yep — from NBC’s Benjy Sarlin: “Oh god, the fly is going to be like some pandemic metaphor in the writeups isn't it.”



Never missing an opportunity: The Biden campaign quickly sold out of “Truth Over Flies” fly swatters. Photo:


Hey, they’re naked!:

Via The Hill’s Judy Kurtz, “Celebrities including Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer are stripping down for a revealing new public service announcement (PSA) aimed at raising awareness about so-called naked ballots.” The video



Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 7,555,437 

U.S. death toll: 211,917 

Breakdown of the numbers


By the way:





The House and Senate are out. President Trump is in Washington, D.C., and Vice President Pence is in Nevada and Arizona today. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are campaigning in Arizona.

President Trump has no public events scheduled.

11 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceMcCarthy, Ducey speak at Pence fundraiser: report Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Pence refused to leave Capitol during riot: book MORE left Salt Lake City, Utah en route to Las Vegas. 

1:05 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence holds a campaign rally in Boulder City, Nev.

4:45 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence meet with the parents of Kayla Mueller in Phoenix. 

11:40 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence land in Washington, D.C.


This morning: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Pelosi won't say if she'll run for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) held her weekly press briefing. Livestream

2:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence holds a campaign rally in Peoria, Ariz. Livestream

5 p.m. EDT: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) campaign in Arizona. Livestream


Today is National Fluffernutter Day and National Pierogi Day!

Perfect for that PaNdEmIc LiFeStYlE!:

Via WJLA-TV, a new apartment building in Washington, D.C., offers a bowling alley, a speakeasy, a residents-only Equinox gym with basketball court and 5,000 square feet of space to work from home. Photos and details:

And because you made it this far, here’s a bunny learning to drink water: