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A fly rests on the head of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence during the vice-presidential debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7, 2020.

ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images

A stray housefly briefly commanded the U.S. national stage on Wednesday, generating 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 insect sat there for several minutes during the matchup, distracting viewers who perhaps may have been looking for a break from all the talk of taxes and trade.

U.S. election 2020: Harris, Pence lay out two visions of America in debate that plays to their supporters

China censors Mike Pence’s comments on China during vice-presidential debate

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

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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