Karen Pence's office defends her appearing without a mask at debate

Second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceCan a common bond of service unite our nation? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - House boots Greene from committees; Senate plows ahead on budget Pence announces post-White House office, plans to move back to Indiana MORE’s office defended her appearance on the debate stage Wednesday night without wearing a mask.

After Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBrown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson vs. Donald Trump: A serious comparison Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren MORE (D-Calif.) debated, their spouses joined them on stage to congratulate them. But Karen Pence received criticism after she greeted her husband without a mask, while Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff, was wearing one. 

Kara Brooks, the second lady’s spokesperson, told The Hill in a statement that both sides had previously agreed the moment would be maskless.


"Second Lady Karen followed an agreement established between both campaigns prior to the debate," the statement read. "Both sides agreed that the spouses would remove their masks when they walked onto the stage at the end of the debate.”

The Biden campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

The second lady was seen wearing her mask during the debate but removed it while getting onstage. 


Both she and Mike Pence tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday ahead of the debate, less than a week after President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden picks up where she left off The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden navigates pressures from Dems Former first lady launches 'Office of Melania Trump' MORE and several White House staffers contracted the virus. 

The rules of the debate required all people to wear masks except for the vice president, Harris and moderator Susan Page. A plexiglass barrier was still placed between the two candidates who stood farther apart than usual. 

Several people condemned the second lady over social media about not wearing a mask onstage, including MSNBC anchor Ayman Mohyeldin and singer Darren Hayes.

Others defended Karen Pence, including author and Trump campaign adviser Harlan Z. Hill, who said, "If the left’s biggest criticism is that Karen Pence didn’t wear a mask when she hugged her HUSBAND, then you know we won tonight.”