Air Force Two at the Burlington International Airport
As Vice President Mike Pence landed at Burlington International Airport on Friday, a half-dozen spectators watched from the Pizza Putt parking lot across the street from the Vermont Air National Guard hangar.
A Jericho woman snapped selfies of Air Force Two under the careful watch of snipers and plainclothes United States Secret Service officers standing conspicuously inside the airport’s perimeter fence. The amateur photographer sheepishly described herself as a Pence supporter, though she declined an interview.
There was no media scrum or large crowd of waving supporters to greet Pence, who landed shortly after 1:30 p.m. Within a few minutes, his motorcade of about 15 SUVs, including Vermont State Police vehicles, slipped through the airport fence and drove away.
The vice president has so far kept a low profile in Vermont, where less than 30 percent of voters supported him and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election. The Labor Day weekend visit wasn’t announced in advance — WCAX broke news of the trip just a few hours before Pence landed — and he hasn’t announced any public events in the state. WCAX reported that the Veep was headed for Lake Hortonia in Hubbardton.
While one Pence supporter showed up outside the airport to greet him, his more numerous critics in the Green Mountain State gave him a less-welcoming hello on social media. One man posted a photo of himself flipping off the vice president's motorcade.
“I honestly hate [Pence] more than #drumph,” wrote Twitter user RowGirlVT, referring to the president by a nickname favored by critics. “Get out of my state a$$hole.”
In a string of tweets, the Vermont Democratic Party extolled the state's progressive achievements, such as becoming the first state to abolish slavery and allow same-sex marriage.
"We hope you learn a thing or two while you're here," the Dems wrote to Pence.
New Hampshire- and Vermont-based Rights & Democracy released a statement broadly condemning the Trump administration's policies, though it did not go into specifics.
"If Vice President Mike Pence could take away one thing from his visit to Vermont today," the statement read, "it is that the vast majority of Vermonters want the Trump Administration to cease and desist their efforts to deeply divide our communities and to undermine our democracy, in order to expand the wealth of billionaires, despite the devastating costs on people and our planet."
Meanwhile, University of Vermont Democrats took a shot at the notoriously anti-gay Pence by inviting him to a “Pre-Pride” campaign event for gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist in Burlington. Vermont's gay pride parade and festival is scheduled for September 8 in Burlington.
The Dems made clear they didn't expect Pence to show: “Or will you be too busy thinking of ways to take away rights from those same LGBTQ folks,” the group tweeted.
Earlier Friday, Pence gave remarks at the U.S. Capitol during a ceremony honoring Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who died of cancer August 25. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott was also in Washington, D.C., for the event and stayed there so he could attend McCain's memorial service Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, according to Scott's spokesperson Rebecca Kelley.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also spoke at the McCain event and later released a statement about Pence's visit.
"Marcelle and I and Governor Scott were with the Vice President and his wife in the Capitol Rotunda this morning for the sad occasion of the arrival of Senator John McCain’s casket," Leahy's statement read. "I am glad to hear that they are able to now visit the most beautiful state in the country, and I hope they enjoy their time in Vermont."