There were frustrating interruptions, though not as many as in the first debate. There were dodged questions, animated facial expressions and one candidate running particularly roughshod over the moderator.
And yes, there was a fly on top of Vice President Mike Pence’s head.
That was what excited social media during the sole vice-presidential debate, one in which the tone was markedly more subdued compared with last week’s presidential debate but in which the dynamics remained largely the same: The Republican incumbent showed little regard for the agreed-upon rules, and the Democratic challenger mostly complied.
And, again, a fly landed on Mr. Pence’s head.
So, for posterity, here is how the internet — or how we casually refer to that insular, blue-check-verified version of the proverbial diner in a steel town — reacted to the debate.
About an hour into the debate, a fly suddenly appeared on Mr. Pence’s head, resting motionless yet extremely visible set against his silver hair. It sat there for two minutes and three seconds, enough time to spawn thousands of memes and somehow crash Twitter’s trending topics.
Even a comedian who spent nearly a decade finding humor in the travails of the vice presidency was impressed by the fly’s appearance.
The Biden campaign even turned the fly into its latest get-out-the-vote canvasser and fund-raiser.
The Trump campaign had put out no fly content as of late Wednesday.
The questions prepared by Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for USA Today, were topical, sharp and specific. They were just rarely answered.
Rather, both candidates (though Mr. Pence more frequently than Ms. Harris) simply used their time to make prepared remarks or attacks, occasionally bantering with each other, but rarely answering the questions.
Mastering the split screen
With the two candidates seated 12 feet
Amid the heated Vice Presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, a stray housefly that landed on US Vice President Mike Pence’s head of thick white hair became an unlikely star on the social media. Notably, the fly stayed there for two-three minutes, however, Pence seemed acutely unaware of the unwelcome visitor’s presence as he made no attempts to shoo it away. But, of course, it took no time for social media users to spot it and thereon, the VP debate As was expected, the fly brought laughs and spawned a whole new cluster of Twitter accounts. The fly has now topped the list of trending questions from the debate, and amusingly so.
Total time a fly sat on Mike Pence’s head: two minutes pic.twitter.com/PtI0rKSi5I
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 8, 2020
Joining in the fun, Biden’s campaign also tweeted, “Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly.” His campaign set up a website, flywillvote.com, to register voters and within the hour, it was selling a “Truth over Flies” fly swatter for $10.
Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly. https://t.co/CqHAId0j8t pic.twitter.com/NbkPl0a8HV
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 8, 2020
“Everyone jealous because I got the best seat for the debate tonight” tweeted a MikePenceFly handle. “Please retweet if you agree that I defeated Mike Pence tonight,” came from TheFlyBeatHim. Here is how the fly triggered an avalanche of hilarious reactions on social media:
Love a reoccurring character. pic.twitter.com/aejroSTi6C
— Joel Kim Booster (@ihatejoelkim) October 8, 2020
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 8, 2020
But did the fly poop on Mike Pence head while it was there?
The Flies pic.twitter.com/XUg8SbuS5O
— Trails (@heretoplaywoot) October 8, 2020
This fly thing on @Mike_Pence
WASHINGTON (AP) — The vice presidential debate featured plexiglass barriers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They were no match for the night’s most talked-about intruder — a fly that briefly buzzed around the stage before landing and staying on Mike Pence’s head.
The incident went unmentioned onstage, with the Republican vice president and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris continuing to focus on the discussion of systemic racism in the justice system.
But as the insect took up residence on Pence’s white hair, the social media firestorm was immediate — and intense. It easily created more, well, buzz than nearly anything else that occurred.
“That’s not on your TV. It’s on his head,” tweeted MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “The fly knows,” tweeted author Stephen King. Others joked about the creature perhaps getting stuck in hair spray — or possibly now being a prime candidate for coronavirus testing.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden immediately got in on the act, tweeting a photo of himself clutching an orange flyswatter under the heading “Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly.” Moments later, he tweeted again, this time highlighting “Flywillvote.com,” which took users to a website set up for his campaign to help supporters make plans to vote.
Pence had spent much of the night shaking his head in response to Harris’ answers. But the vice president didn’t appear to notice the fly’s arrival. Despite his talking and normal body movements, the hot stage lights and those virus-fighting barriers, the fly was unperturbed. It finally flew away on its own.
Wednesday night’s visitor wasn’t the first fly to take center stage at a presidential debate. In 2016, one briefly landed between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s eyes