Immigration MIA From Debate But Fly Takes Center Stage

mike-pence-fly-gate
The now famous fly on the head of US Vice President Mike Pence as he takes notes during the vice presidential debate against US Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California Kamala Harris in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
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By Andy Sullivan

Utah, Thurs. Oct. 8, 2020 (Reuters) – The hot button issue of immigration, which Donald Trump and his administration made the cornerstone of their campaign and governance, was MIA again from Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate, but a stray housefly briefly commanded the U.S. national stage.

The fly generated buzz when it perched on Vice President Mike Pence’s cropped white hair as he debated his Democratic rival, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants.

The insect sat there for several minutes during the matchup, distracting viewers.

“The fly won the debate,” Jeanne Duncan, an Oregon writer, posted on Twitter.

The fly hung on as the Republican former congressman and former Indiana governor shook his head and parried with Harris, appearing secure in the knowledge that the candidate was not in a position to shoo it away. Pence’s left eye was noticeably bloodshot.

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 07, 2020 shows US Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by JUSTIN SULLIVAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A short time later, it was gone, but its legend was only growing.

On Twitter, an account named @MikePenceFly, swiftly gained thousands of followers.

Harris’s 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 $10.

Pence’s staff chose not to capitalize on the uninvited guest. In a post-debate call, senior adviser Jason Miller had a different animal in mind. “We had a deer in the headlights look from Senator Harris tonight,” he said.

US Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California, Kamala Harris’ uncle Balachandran Gopalan watches the vice presidential debate on a tablet at his home in New Delhi on October 8, 2020. (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

Some Democrats took the opportunity to bring up President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 infection. “The fly needs to be quarantined,” Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar wrote.

Republican Senator Rand Paul had a different spin: “The deep state planted a bug on @VP. This illegal spying is really out of control.”

Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show” on CBS, suggested that by remaining perched in Pence’s hair for two minutes or so, the fly had a greater attention span than Trump himself.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Howard Goller)