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Watching Kamala Harris take the stage tonight for her debate with Mike Pence, many Democrats may be wondering the same thing: Why would she agree to appear in person, just a few feet away from the vice president, amid a coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged the White House and infected President Donald Trump?
The answer, above all, is that the Biden campaign does not want to shift the public’s focus away from Trump’s unsteady handling of the COVID-19 crisis—not even to a debate about whether to debate.
In that way, the campaign’s decision for Harris to participate reflects the same messaging discipline that’s led Joe Biden to brush off questions about, say, whether he supports packing the Supreme Court: He doesn’t want to provide any opportunity for the GOP to talk about anything but Trump’s performance.