Vice-President Mike Pence spoke at the First Baptist Church in Dallas Sunday. He wore a face mask. The 100-person choir behind him did not while singing. The occasion was an event called “Celebrate Freedom Rally” at the church. Trump loyalist and sometimes surrogate Pastor Robert Jeffress leads the church.
The church was full of enthusiast church-goers waving small American flags. The church crowd size Sunday was estimated at 2200, according to reports. Pence was accompanied by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Senator John Cornyn.
Photographs and video taken inside First Baptist Dallas showed dozens of attendees waving American flags and cheering on the vice president, who spoke to the congregation for about 30 minutes. Jeffress, an outspoken advocate of the president, led the ceremony and introduced Pence.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary (HUD) Ben Carson also spoke at the event in Dallas.
Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside the church and some taunted police officers acting as security for the church service, dangling doughnuts on strings. Is it me or are the protesters just being lame now? Check out that this reporter on the scene calls what the protesters are doing to the police as “tempting” them with doughnuts, not taunting them. As you see, police were on foot and horseback, because, Texas.
— Tyrone Slothrop III (@w_tres_mil) June 28, 2020
And there is this quote:
“Simply voicing your opinion about a community that is under attack is not political,” a protest leader can be heard telling police and demonstrators outside the church through a PA system.
That’s an odd quote given the fact that the expressed goal of Black Lives Matter is to transform America into whatever their version is and meet their demands or they will burn it all down and begin again doing it their way, according to a co-founder, Hawk Newsome. It’s political.
Face masks were “strongly encouraged” and signs were posted around the church. The choir sang throughout the service but while singing, removed their face masks. Then they put the masks back on between songs. Senator Cornyn and Secretary Carson also wore masks.
Throughout the service, the members of the choir sang at full volume, behind an orchestra. Between songs, the choir members put their masks back on when they sat down, according to pool reports from the event. The members of the choir had space between them, but it was not clear if it was the recommended six feet.
Face masks at the event were “strongly encouraged,” with signs posted around the venue signaling the suggestion. According to pool reports from the event, at least half of the crowd was wearing a face covering, an act which experts say can reduce the transmission of Covid-19 by as much as 50%.
Pence was scheduled to hold campaign events in Arizona and Florida this week but those have been canceled due to spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Instead, Pence will meet with governors and health care teams. The vice-president finds himself under renewed pressure over the pandemic outbreak. On Friday, the White House coronavirus task force which he coordinates held its first White House press briefing in about two months. During that press conference, Pence told reporters he would be doing events in Arizona and Florida. He was questioned about the public safety concerns over large indoor events.
On Saturday, the Trump campaign said it had postponed Pence’s campaign events in Florida and Arizona next week “out of an abundance of caution,” a campaign spokesperson told CNN.
“The Vice President is still traveling to Texas, Arizona, and Florida this week as he said he is meeting with the governors and their healthcare teams,” a spokesperson from the office said in a statement to CNN.
Pence was a guest on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning. The interview was taped on Saturday. Pence’s staff is now accusing the network of editing his remarks to guest host John Dickinson when the discussion turned to why coronavirus cases are ballooning around the country. The edit misconstrues Pence’s remarks about testing.
“Let me respond — but you don’t want to leave the impression that this is just an increase in testing because what’s vital here, according to the experts, is that the percentage of positive cases has gone up, that something is happening here more than just an increase in cases because there’s more testing,” Dickerson asked, according to a transcript of the 28-minute interview shared by Pence’s office with the Washington Examiner.
“But, to your point, John, it’s clear that testing isn’t the only reason that we’re seeing more cases, but it’s a significant reason,” Pence responded. “It’s inarguable that at a time that we’re able to do 500,000 tests a day, more than 30 million tests nationwide, that now we’re able to test a great number of Americans that have no symptoms, where, early on in this pandemic, we literally were limiting testing to people of a certain age group, most notably seniors and also people that had symptoms of the coronavirus.”
In a clip of the interview tweeted by the show’s account, Pence was quoted as saying, “It’s inarguable that the historic increase in testing that we’ve accomplished in this country has played a role in the new cases.” The tweet, which omitted the context of Pence’s full remarks, also implied that the vice president was arguing that increased testing is “fully” responsible for the recent rise in cases.
The tweet was later deleted and replaced it with a “clarification” noting in its caption that Pence said “testing isn’t the only reason” behind the spikes.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 28, 2020
Of course, once the original tweet goes out, the damage is done, right? The media narrative is that Trump is lying to everyone by how he talks about testing for the coronavirus. I watched the interview and it was rather contentious at times.
The vice-president is in a tough spot. He wants to do what he can to lead by example about mitigating the coronavirus outbreak yet he is taking his lead from President Trump on the subject of face masks. He probably hits a decent compromise by keeping his commitment to Pastor Jeffress in Dallas – and meeting with Governor Abbott afterward – and then go ahead and travel to Arizona and Florida but nix the campaign events. It’s good to show he is meeting with the governors of those states and health care teams, too.