Republican Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic rival Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday face off for a debate.

Iran Press/America: The competition over the second-highest office in the United States has drawn substantial attention as Republican Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden are both in their 70s, possibly raising the stakes as a vice president takes over if the president becomes unable to serve.

For Pence, 61, the debate may be a chance to turn around the campaign, as Biden, a former vice president, and longtime senator is widening his lead over Trump in national polls following last week's first chaotic presidential debate and the revelation of Trump's coronavirus infection.

It will also be a test for Harris, who is the first black woman and Asian American nominated to be vice president by a major US party.

The 55-year-old prosecutor-turned-senator will have to prove her skills as an inquisitor. With a growing number of White House staffers testing positive for the virus, extra safety precautions have been taken for the 90-minute debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, including plexiglass barriers between the two candidates.

Debate topics are likely to include the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic, which has left more than 210,000 people dead in the United States, as well as his belittling of the virus threat using rhetoric he seems to be doubling down on as he recovers from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Pence has remained a loyal defender of Trump, touting the president's early actions to cut off travel from China, where the virus was first detected late last year, and pitching him as a leader who can be trusted to rebuild the pandemic-hit economy.

Harris, for her part, could face scrutiny over whether her policy stances can be characterized as leaning toward the "radical left," as portrayed by a Trump campaign seeking to scare moderate voters.

She may also be questioned over attacking Biden last year, when they were both running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, for his past record of opposing efforts to address racial segregation.