Vice President Mike Pence flew to West Virginia on Friday to attend and speak at a public celebration for the late Air Force Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager.
Pence, in an opinion piece on FoxNews.com, praised the legendary pilot and first person to break the sound barrier for his “heroism” and “selflessness.”
A day earlier, the vice president made a surprise visit to the Capitol to greet National Guard troops and thank them for their service.
Hours before Pence’s impromptu meeting Thursday with the troops, the vice president took part in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) briefing on security precautions being implemented amid threats of violence to disrupt next week’s inauguration. Pence said he’s committed to “an orderly transition and to a safe inauguration.”
Unlike President Trump, Pence has been very visible since last week’s storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters and far-right extremists, who were protesting the certification by Congress of Biden’s Electoral College victory over the president. Pence, in his role as vice president, was presiding over the joint session of Congress at the time the Capitol was breached by the rioting mob. Five people, including a Capitol Hill Police officer, died during the attack.
“We all lived through that day of January the 6th,” Pence said at the FEMA briefing. “We are committed to an orderly transition and to a safe inauguration. The American people deserve nothing less.”
And he emphasized, “We’re going to ensure that we have a safe inauguration. That President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in as the new president and vice president of the United States. In a manner consistent with our history, with our traditions, in a way that gives honor to the American people and the United States.”
And unlike the president — who has still refused to concede his election loss to Biden and continues to falsely claim that the election was “rigged” and that there was “massive voter fraud” – Pence will attend the inauguration.
“I think Pence wants to very much do what’s right for the country and he does view, I believe, his job as vice president to be actually completed all the way to the last hour,” Tim Phillips, a longtime close friend of the vice president, told Fox News on Friday.
Phillips, the president of the powerful conservative and libertarian political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, said, “It’s not a surprise that he would go to the Capitol and visit those National Guard members, and go to the inauguration. I think it’s a good thing to do for the country. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Phillips emphasized that the vice president “very much views his job as a duty and he wants to complete his duty right through the tape.”
Ahead of last week’s congressional certification of Biden’s electoral victory, Trump had repeatedly urged Pence to refuse to accept the pro-Biden electoral slates in a handfuls of states that the former vice president had narrowly edged out Trump. The president incorrectly claimed that Pence had the power to reverse the election results in his role presiding over the joint session of Congress.
As the Capitol was being stormed — soon after Trump urged a massive crowd of supporters at a rally he headlined near the White House to march to the Capitol and show strength in protesting the election certification – Trump took to Twitter to lambast Pence for doing his Constitution duty rather than to support the president’s unsuccessful push to stay in power.
While Pence’s standing with the president, some of Trump’s most devout supporters, and with some far right extremists has definitely taken a hit, Phillips predicted that the vice president “emerges with even more respect.”
The longtime conservative leader and activist told Fox News that he thinks Pence “leaves office with an enormous reservoir of gratitude from a large number of Americans – from donors to activists to a large number of Americans.”