By Nikhila Natarajan
New York– A fly that landed on US Vice President Mike Pence’s head of thick white hair and nested there for a good two minutes became an unlikely breakout star on the social media viewing party at the first Vice Presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign jumped right in with “Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly”.
According to pundits of all things big and small, the fly took the second place after Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ sweepstakes at the 90-minute debate on Wednesday night.
Pence came a distant third because he was “patronising”, “drove the women crazy” and was too “boring” for the men, according to a zinger from former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
“This may not move the polls but it gives Americans a good idea of who Kamala Harris is. There’s a certain joy about her which she brought with her,” McCaskill added.
The fly brought laughs and spawned a whole new cluster of Twitter accounts.
“Everyone jealous because I got the best seat for the debate tonightm” tweeted a MikePenceFly handle.
“Please retweet if you agree that I defeated Mike Pence tonight,” came from TheFlyBeatHim.
Fly tales went for a wild ride while Harris and Pence droned on with carefully scripted lines, “Pence didn’t remove the fly. The fly left him when it got bored”.
As for Harris, she stayed in command, smiled, took notes and often gave Pence withering looks that won the visual performance for the television audience.
Pence played to his strengths, stayed calm and painted a stark contrast to President Donald Trump, now laid up with Covid-19.
“I will not be lectured – she drove that part home. She referred to Biden as Joe throughout, which was great,” James Carville, a Democratic strategist, said about Harris.
“Its a good night for Joe Biden,” Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, agreed.
Pence spent 90 minutes trying to defend the administration and framed Harris and Biden as radical left wingers – an old tune.
Pence came in for stinging criticism for doing what former Republicans call the “I’ll go check with my wife and let you know” act.
Overall, the Vice President, in his signature soporific style, defended the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic that has so far infected 7,547,929 people and killed 211,753 others.
That was a hard act to pull off and Harris slammed the brakes instantly, rapping Trump and Pence for America’s disastrous pandemic response.
Harris condemned what she called “the greatest failure of any presidential administration”.
Pence prosecuted the Obama-Biden case well in parts and oozed syrupy platitudes on Trump’s fitness for four more years.
His moment however, came around the 30th minute, saying “the American comeback is on the ballot”.
Harris, after punching hard in the early minutes, came into her own on questions around healthcare.
“If you have a loved one with a pre-existing condition, they’re coming for you,” she warned Americans.
When they skirted issues, both Harris and Pence called each other’s party a “disaster”.
The prime-time meeting was a chance for American voters to decide whether Pence or Harris is ready to take on the duties of the presidency before the end of the next term.
That question did come up during the debate.
Trump, 74, is recovering from the coronavirus, and 77-year-old Biden would be the oldest President ever.
Both the Vice Presidential nominees did not answer the question directly, just as they sidestepped some other issues and instead inserted elliptical scripted remarks. (IANS)