Washington, October 8
The vice presidential debate on Wednesday had plexiglass barriers to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they couldn’t stop the night’s most talked-about intruder – a giant stray housefly that perched on Vice President Mike Pence’s cropped white hair for over two minutes, generating buzz online.
While US President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus was the elephant in the room during the debate between Pence and his Democratic rival Senator Kamala Harris, it was Pence’s six-legged companion and the pinkness in his left eye that lit up Twitter.
Pence never reacted to the fly taking up residence on his perfectly coiffed white hair and spent most of the 90-minute live debate answering questions posed by moderator Susan Page of USA Today, but the fly brought up a slew of questions of its own.
On social media, the fly, which sat atop Pence’s head for 2 minutes and 3 seconds, became the biggest star.
On Twitter, an account named @MikePenceFly swiftly gained thousands of followers.
Harris’ running mate, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, posted a picture of himself with a fly swatter on Twitter, asking supporters to “Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly.” His campaign set up a website, flywillvote.com, to register voters. Within the hour, it was selling a “Truth over Flies” fly swatter for USD 10.
Some Democrats took the opportunity to bring up President Trump’s COVID-19 infection.
“The fly needs to be quarantined,” Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar wrote.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, a Trump ally, joked: “The deep state planted a bug on @VP. This illegal spying is really out of control.” Setting aside the issue of the vice-president having a fly on his head, people also pointed to the condition of his left eye.
Numerous viewers spotted that Pence’s left eye had a distinctly pinky-red tone, prompting widespread discussion about pink eye.
“Is he Ok,” Indian-American actor-model Padma Lakshmi wrote in a tweet accompanying a video of Pence where his eye is noticeably bloodshot.
“He was terrible and amazingly stiff and fake. And looked sick with the pink eye AND the fly was attracted to s**t,” said a tweet from another user.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, can be a symptom of coronavirus. Pence tested negative for COVID-19 ahead of the debate. PTI