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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Keeping tabs on Pence: Nixed trip, corrected statement

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a rally

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019.  Credit: Bloomberg/Matthew Hatcher

There are several good reasons to check in every now and then on the subordinate doings of Vice President Mike Pence. 

That's because he might run for president in 2024. Or he could suddenly be thrust into the presidency in an emergency.

Pence sometimes deals with Congress on behalf of the Trump administration. He has a relevant political following in his home state of Indiana.

For the time being, Pence endures the routine gaffes and twists of a second-rung political life as portrayed in the HBO situation comedy VEEP. 

Last week Pence visited Ohio where he said a fledgling electric vehicle maker and an affiliate secured funding to buy the closed General Motors plant in Lordstown.

But GM's spokesman Jim Cain denied it, saying $25 million secured by Workhorse Group from private investors is separate from any sale of the plant.

How the mistake occurred wasn't immediately clear — nor necessarily important.

Last month, Pence was all set  to depart from Washington on Air Force Two for New Hampshire where he was due to speak at an addiction treatment center.

But the trip was canceled at the last minute, for reasons said to involve "security."

Turns out, as Politico reported, that Pence's staff found out the Granite Center facility for which he was headed had come under federal investigation involving shipments of illegal opioids.

Since the canceled trip, former Granite employee Jeff Hatch — who had once been an offensive tackle for the NFL's New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccanneers — pleaded guilty in court to fentanyl trafficking.

Last week, Pence rolled into Atlanta to speak at a conservative economic conference attended by other Republican politicians.

A few miles down the road, 1,000 delegates were gathering for the Democratic Socialists of America convention, planning support for Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

Another recent sample of his time on the road: Pence visited a Skyline Chili, a well-known restaurant chain in Cincinnati, where he shook hands with employees and customers.

While there, he consumed only a Diet Pepsi.

Absurd Twitter responses followed and made for another VEEP moment. One online critic said of the innocuous visit: "Bruh … Pence literally went to Skyline and ordered nothing but a Diet Pepsi. SMH."

Pence was also in Pennsylvania, trying to drum up congressional support for NAFTA changes the administration negotiated with Mexico and Canada. 

“Now it’s time for Congress to do their job and approve the USMCA, and approve it this year," Pence said.

Negotiations for that approval between Robert Lighthizer, the president’s trade representative, and key lawmakers are still under way.

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