MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the wake of President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, and last week’s free-for-all Presidential debate, there was unprecedented anticipation for tonight’s Vice Presidential debate.

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence dropped his objection to having another clear plastic barrier on the stage as an additional precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

Polls generally show that people do not make their choice based on a Vice Presidential candidate, but Pence is popular among traditional conservatives. And, in Twin Cities DFL strongholds, Sen. Kamala Harris yard signs are popping up.

Trump’s senior campaign advisor Mercedes Schlapp says Pence will double down on President Trump’s statement to not be afraid of COVID-19.

“The vice president is going to hone in on why we should not be dominated by this virus, we should not fear this virus,” Schlapp said.

Biden surrogate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, whose husband and father survived COVID-19, sees the debate stakes differently.

“To act like everything is fine is just not honest with the American people. What I am looking forward to is that Kamala Harris will make the case, she will make the case that we need to make decisions based on science,” she said.

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Klobuchar, who debated Harris during the Democratic primaries, offered a prediction.

“She will not interrupt the moderator 145 times. She will show grace under pressure, and her job tonight is to make the case for a Biden-Harris administration,” she said.

The Trump campaign is convinced voters will see the president as triumphing over the coronavirus.

“We are not going to surrender the way Joe Biden has suggested. We are not going to be permanently locked down. That is not the solution, as we know we have made tremendous progress in this fight against the coronavirus,” Schlapp said.

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Klobuchar sees the polls that already show Biden gaining in the aftermath of the president’s diagnosis.

“The fact that he is five points up in Florida — a state many people thought he could not win — that he is seven points up or nine in Pennsylvania, these are all really good signs for the Biden campaign,” Klobuchar said.

The Trump campaign wants us all to remember 2016.

“In 2016, we had one staffer in Minnesota, and we lost by about 40,000 votes, now in 2020 we have invested so many resources,” Schlapp said. “And you are looking at a total difference, knowing that we can win Minnesota come Election Day.”

Esme Murphy