Mike Pence in Vail Valley for the holidays
And one local state lawmaker has a pointed message for him
Vice President Mike Pence has chosen the Vail Valley as his holiday destination, according to multiple sources.
The vice president’s extensive security detail has checked in at various hotels across the valley, and Air Force 2 was expected to land sometime Wednesday evening at Eagle County Regional Airport.
A large police presence was observed late Wednesday afternoon by numerous visitors around the airport facility. A call to a White House spokesperson had not been returned as of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Amber Barrett with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that deputies were assisting the Secret Service with logistics.
“Secret Service will often request assistance from local law enforcement and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office will often help when requested,” Barrett said. “The Secret Service won’t typically give us many details until time of.”
The Vail Police Department is also assisting, the Vail Daily has learned.
The vice president hasn’t been to Vail since 2018, when he came here to attend a friend’s wedding at Camp Hale on Memorial Day weekend. That weekend, Pence and wife Karen met with four Gold Star families in Minturn’s Turntable restaurant, and then surprised a Sunday congregation at The Vail Church.
Donovan calls out veep
State Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Democrat who represents Eagle County in District 5, took to Twitter shortly after hearing the news.
“Heard you’re visiting my hometown for the holiday. Stay tuned for a story a day of things that would be different if you had chosen to lead and address and instead of ignore and minimize the COVID-19 pandemic,” Donovan tweeted at 6:43 p.m. Tuesday.
Hello @VP / @Mike_Pence. Heard you’re visiting my hometown for the holiday. Stay tuned for a story a day of things that would be different if you had chosen to lead and address and instead of ignore and minimize the COVID-19 pandemic. #COVID19— Kerry Donovan (@KerryDonovanSD5) December 23, 2020
Donovan followed up Wednesday morning, with some more criticism.
Good morning @VP / @Mike_Pence. Make sure you pack a mask. You’ll be spending the holidays in a mandatory mask zone. And as you fly into Eagle and drive up valley, you’ll pass by a couple of schools – CO saw it’s first decrease in enrollment since the 80s.— Kerry Donovan (@KerryDonovanSD5) December 23, 2020
“Make sure you pack a mask. You’ll be spending the holidays in a mandatory mask zone. And as you fly into Eagle and drive up valley, you’ll pass by a couple of schools – CO saw it’s first decrease in enrollment since the 80s,” Donovan tweeted.
Donovan is referencing recent reports that enrollment in Colorado public schools dropped by close to 30,000 students this school year, a 3.3% decrease, marking the first year-to-year decrease the state’s public school system has reported in more than 30 years, as the Colorado Sun reported earlier this month.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Donovan said she hoped her tweets directed at Pence would bring attention to a lack of federal leadership on the coronavirus pandemic that has had a severe effect on Colorado and Eagle County.
“I want him to be working on a response to the pandemic, not having a vacation,” she said. “And if he’s going to have a vacation, he better know that he’s taking a vacation in a place that’s really been hit hard. We were the first place in the state to shut down. The mountain resorts were the first places in the state to feel the hit of the pandemic.”
Donovan said her phone was ringing off the hook in March from constituents asking about how to bury loved ones in a pandemic while the White House continued to play down the severity of the crisis.
“And now a guy who refused to take leadership on universally acknowledging wearing a mask is now going to spend his Christmas in a mandatory mask zone,” she said. “He better follow our local rules or he better not come here.”
She added: “The impacts of the pandemic are not a hypothetical for the people in the community of Vail. But he’s going to come here and try to spend his holidays, I bet to get away from it all, but that’s just inexcusable for me. He shouldn’t get that pass. There’s going to be fewer events for his family to enjoy because the pandemic forced High Line to furlough all of its employees. There’s going to be less reservations for the locals to enjoy because of his policies and a lack of action forced restaurants to to be at 25 percent.”
Pence received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on national television on December 18 and has never tested positive for the virus; though other members of the White House have, including President Trump.
Vail and the White House
Vail and Beaver Creek have repeatedly been a destination for presidents, vice presidents and other White House officials over the years.
President Gerald Ford started coming to Vail in the 1960s when he was a Michigan congressman and was such a regular at the resort during his presidency that the national press began referring to Ford’s Vail home as “The Western White House.”
Vice President Dick Cheney often attended American Enterprise Institute discussions in Beaver Creek during the George W. Bush administration, while Michelle Obama visited Eagle County during her husband’s presidency.
And 30 years ago this week, Vice President Dan Quayle visited Vail over the Christmas holiday. During his visit, a member of his Secret Service detail was charged with misdemeanor theft when she allegedly tried to walk out of a Gart Brothers sporting goods store with a ski jacket hidden in a shopping bag.
Nate Peterson, Chris Freud and Pam Boyd contributed reporting. This story will be updated.