Where has Vice President Mike Pence been for the past month?
As COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to surge nationally, I’ve been looking for Pence, the man tasked with guiding America through this public health crisis as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Sure, I’ve seen him honor our nation's fallen soldiers during a Veterans Day ceremony. He made a cameo at a campaign rally in Georgia, stumping to secure Republican seats in the Senate. I also watched him swear in Arizona’s newest U.S. senator on Wednesday.
So let me be more specific: What I’ve been looking for is public-facing leadership from Pence as America grapples with an out-of-control pandemic. Just because President Donald Trump won't do it doesn't mean that Pence shouldn't. He must.
I want a vice president who is sending daily reminders to wear masks, socially distance and avoid crowds — and reinforcing that message by leading by example. I want a vice president who is working day and night to help negotiate with Congress a viable stimulus package for those teetering on the edge of financial ruin. I want a vice president who is actively coordinating with our country's governors to create detailed safety guidelines specific to each state. I want a vice president who is working with the U.S. military to deploy assistance — both medical and infrastructural — to rural and urban areas being decimated by the virus. I want to see charts and graphs and action.
Gone are the days of our vice president walking us through the coronavirus numbers at news briefings or touting the administration’s response to the deadly virus. Instead, as Trump flails about, floating baseless voter fraud claims — displaying utter disrespect and contempt for America’s electoral process — Pence has shrunk into the shadows.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Faith and Freedom Coalition policy conference on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Atlanta.
I understand that Pence might be licking his Election Day wounds, but a pandemic is still raging and lives are at stake. Until Thursday, when the vice president traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to hold a roundtable discussion on distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, you'd think he had simply thrown in the towel, at least publicly.
With such a void in leadership from the White House, it seems Americans have largely been left to fend for ourselves. If there ever was a signal that record numbers of voters made the right choice on Nov. 3, this untimely abandonment is certainly it.
The irony is as sad as it is dangerous: Trump won’t concede that he lost the election, and Pence seemingly has ceded his willingness to serve as America's pandemic pilot — just as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warning our darkest days are upon us, predicted that the United States could reach 450,000 deaths by February.
"The reality is, December and January and February are going to be rough times, and I actually believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of our nation, largely because of the stress it’s going to put on our public health system," Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation event.