Vice President Mike Pence’s close personal relationship with governors of both parties has been a key to the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, White House advisers told Breitbart News.
Pence, a former governor of Indiana before President Donald Trump selected him as his running mate in 2016, has used his experience as a governor to build upon relationships with governors in fighting the coronavirus as the chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He has regular calls with governors, including one scheduled for Monday afternoon, where he and the president address whatever their needs are—from testing to ventilators to personal protective equipment to anything else that may come up.
“From very early on, Vice President Pence has forged a seamless partnership with governors in both political parties,” Katie Miller, the vice president’s press secretary, told Breitbart News on Monday. “As a former governor, Vice President Pence understands the important role state executives play during moments of crises. From the day he was tapped to lead the White House response to the coronavirus, Vice President Pence has worked tirelessly with Republican and Democrat governors to keep the American people safe. He has led a bipartisan effort in which governors across the country have put politics aside and worked together in the interest of the American people.”
It’s been one of the more interesting stories of the coronavirus pandemic, in that the highly partisan nature of American politics has seemed to subside for the most part when it comes to governors working with the White House and in particular the vice president.
Governors in both parties, Democrat and Republican, have praised Pence for his handling of the response.
“He’s been really helpful and engaged,” Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has clashed with Trump and is on former Vice President Joe Biden’s shortlist to be his running mate this year, said of Pence in mid-April, for instance.
Trump named Pence to lead the federal response to the coronavirus crisis on February 26. The White House Coronavirus Task Force had already been up and running for some time, but Pence’s taking it over put the president’s wingman in charge of the effort—everything from the public health crisis to the economic side of things. Just over a week later, Pence visited Washington State—which was one of the first places hit by the coronavirus—to address its response to the matter there.
Appearing with federal health officials on that March 5 visit alongside Washington State’s Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and most of the state’s congressional delegation, Pence assured the state’s officials—Democrat and Republican alike—that the White House was with them.
“The president wanted me to be here today to make it crystal clear that we’re with you,” Pence said while sitting next to Inslee at an event, according to the Seattle Times.
Inslee, who briefly sought the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination before dropping out of the race, made clear he has his disagreements with Trump—but that he believed the administration’s handling of this crisis was promising.
According to the Seattle Times, Inslee said he has had “more than enough very robust disagreements with the current president.”
“But I want to focus today on the work we need to do in the partnership,” Inslee said. “And I can tell you that I think that this is a good partnership moving forward.
“And I am pleased with the results of our collaboration today,” Inslee added.
A broader statement Inslee released praised Pence for the effort of productive collaboration between the federal government under Trump and the state of Washington.
“We’ve just finished very productive meetings with the vice president,” Inslee said then. “We in Washington are very appreciative of him being here today. He not only helped us with some issues today in our partnership with the federal government, but he has already helped us in recently removing some federal restrictions that would have made it more difficult to have testing for the coronavirus, which we appreciate.”
He went on to say, “We had very helpful meetings, talking about our ability to increase the testing capacity for the virus in the United States. We had some great discussions about some of our unemployment compensation issues to help more people who might be quarantined to be able to have assistance. We had discussions about the ability to have additional surge capacity in our medical delivery system and our ability to have immediate help from the federal government with one of our nursing homes and other capacity. And I think that he has been very remarkably adept at fielding our inquiries, and I know he’s going to go back and help to continue this effort.”
It’s not just Whitmer and Inslee who think Pence has been critical in responding to the coronavirus.
On March 9, California’s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom praised Trump and Pence for their efforts in combating the coronavirus.
“So I’m just not interested in finding daylight on those statements because every single thing his administration — and it stars at the top, including the vice president — has been consistent with the expectation that we’d repatriate these passengers, and we’d do it in a way that does justice to the spirit that defines the best of our country and the state of California,” Newsom said, adding as it relates to Pence, ”We had a very long conversation, and every single thing he said, they followed through on.”
New York’s Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state has been hardest hit by the coronavirus, has repeatedly praised not just the president, but the vice president as well. In a statement in March, for instance, Cuomo said regarding the efforts to build up drive-through testing centers in New York, “I want to thank the Vice President, and especially the President, who facilitated this and moved quickly.”
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, also a Democrat, said that while President Trump’s tweets and political barbs sometimes distract the media, the government’s response led by Pence has been solid.
“I tell you that the [Vice President Mike] Pence task force, we meet with them once or twice a week telephonically and they are much more responsive. The federal government is stepping up in terms of their messaging,” Lamont said in mid-April in a CNN interview, adding, “Don’t let the verbal hand grenades from the President distract from a lot of other good work that’s going on.”
In a mid-April interview with Politico, Pennsylvania’s Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf also praised Pence and Trump—saying that Pence was helpful in delivering on a request he had for N95 masks.
“They’ve done pretty well,” Wolf said of the president and vice president. “We needed additional N95 masks and I had a couple conversations with the vice president and he actually made it happen.”
Pence made one of his first trips outside Washington, DC, since the pandemic began when he visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last wee, meeting with Democrat Gov. Tim Walz. While there, Walz, as Breitbart News reported last week, praised him as well.
“I can tell you that the vice president spends countless hours on the phone with governors every week; he’s there to pick up the phone when we call,” Walz said. “I want to thank you and the president.”
New Jersey’s Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy has regularly praised the president and vice president, including in a tweet in late March, again at the White House last week, and in a number of other comments:
Participated in a video call today on #COVID19 mitigation with @VP, Dr. Debbie Birx, @WhiteHouse officials, and fellow governors, where I thanked the Vice President for today’s PPE shipment and for @realDonaldTrump's approval of four new @FEMA field hospitals in New Jersey. pic.twitter.com/tWyS4Hikst
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 23, 2020
“I’m on a back and forth with all variety of federal partners. We have not had one call that hasn’t been answered or returned,” Murphy added in mid-April, according to local news reports.
He singled out a number of federal agencies and officials for praise as well, thanking Pence in particular.
“High on that list is the vice president. I have to say that,” Murphy said. “He has been responsive.”
In early March, Oregon’s Democrat Gov. Kate Brown noted she considered Pence’s time as a former governor critical to his response efforts.
“On Tuesday, I submitted a letter to Vice President Mike Pence outlining Oregon’s potential needs in responding to the coronavirus,” Brown said on March 5. “Yesterday, I spoke personally with the Vice President about our shared goal of safeguarding Americans from the spread of the virus. I feel confident that, as a former Governor, he understands the urgency at a state level to make sure we have the resources we need to identify and treat cases of COVID-19.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, another Democrat who represents one of the hardest-hit states, appeared at the White House alongside Trump and Pence last week to praise the federal response to the coronavirus crisis—and has long been singing the praises of the White House.
“We are grateful to both President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence for keeping Louisiana at the forefront of this fight against COVID-19 and appreciate them understanding the necessity of these ventilators for the survival of our people, especially in light of today’s sobering numbers,” Edwards said on April 4, for instance. “I spoke to the Vice President this morning and reiterated Louisiana’s ongoing needs. Based on our modeling, we know that we will exceed our capacity to deliver health care to those who need it, first in the New Orleans area, but because of these ventilators and others that we are sourcing around the world, we will be able to prolong that inevitable day and have fewer people go with unmet medical needs.”
Nevada’s Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak has also repeatedly publicly praised the administration and vice president:
I had a productive call this morning with @VP Mike Pence and our Nation’s Governors regarding updates on #COVID19. Collaboration is key in this evolving situation, and we will continue our work to ensure Nevada is prepared.
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) March 2, 2020
I had a productive 2-hour phone call this morning with Vice President Pence’s Task Force. I’m fighting for Nevada every day with the goal of getting the resources we need to mitigate the spread of #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/urqCnEb4Pc
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) April 6, 2020
Today, I had an informative call with VP Pence and other Governors this morning sharing ideas and best practices to increase #COVID19 testing across the country. I am grateful for the close collaboration with leaders from across the country. pic.twitter.com/lslHlwvaID
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) April 24, 2020
While less politically significant because they are from the same party, several GOP governors, from Utah’s Gary Herbert to Georgia’s Brian Kemp to Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts to Missouri’s Mike Parson to Mississippi’s Tate Reeves to Florida’s Ron DeSantis to Indiana’s Eric Holcomb to Arizona’s Doug Ducey to South Dakota’s Kristi Noem to Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt to Ohio’s Mike DeWine and more have had high praise for the federal response and the vice president:
I appreciated the chance to talk this morning with @VP Mike Pence, my fellow governors, and officials from @CDCgov and @HHSGov. They updated us on federal actions on novel coronavirus and solicited our help and input. As always, wash your hands and stay home if you’re sick. pic.twitter.com/7RGprAw8yX
— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) March 2, 2020
Wrapped up a call with @VP Pence a little while ago on #COVID19. We are working hard with our federal, state, and local partners to mitigate the spread of the virus and prepare for any scenario. #gapol pic.twitter.com/pRBuafD74P
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) March 9, 2020
— Gov. Pete Ricketts (@GovRicketts) March 9, 2020
Appreciate today's update from Vice President @Mike_Pence. Missouri will receive $9.9 million from emergency funding legislation that President @realDonaldTrump signed on Friday. https://t.co/iGz5NkC6Wk
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) March 9, 2020
We will come through this together and our country will emerge stronger. I’m grateful for their strong efforts to protect American lives. pic.twitter.com/FNY0JE2Q0f
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 16, 2020
— Governor Eric Holcomb (@GovHolcomb) March 16, 2020
A CDC team arrives today to help us assess the situation on the ground. Additional details soon. (3/4)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) April 15, 2020
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) April 20, 2020
Florida is grateful to @Mike_Pence for his perseverance and leadership during this global pandemic. Thank you for your responsiveness, dedication and friendship over the past several months!
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 21, 2020
— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) April 24, 2020
As the country turns to reopening now, all of these governors nationwide—and these relationships that Pence and Trump have forged with them through the worst of the crisis—will be key in getting the economy back up and running.