The air across the U.S. (or at least in the majority-Democratic parts of it) is full of excitement over President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. And while outgoing-President Donald Trump is busy stewing in his own grandiose plans to discount millions of votes against him and going on all-caps Twitter rants, Vice President Mike Pence has been remarkably silent. In fact, he hasn’t been seen in public since at least Tuesday.
According to NBC News, Pence — who heads the U.S.’s COVID-19 task force — has not been spotted since Election Day and was not with Trump during his Thursday evening address. Although sources say that he has been “active” at the White House this week, Pence’s official schedule is empty through this weekend — a rarity during normal times, and these are not normal times.
It should be noted that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, along with four other staffers, have all tested positive for COVID-19 this week — a striking coincidence. While there’s no way to know right now whether or not Pence has contracted the virus, it would potentially explain his general silence during this critical period. But this administration has never been very forthcoming when it comes to the truth.
Pence has often served as Trump’s more articulate mouthpiece for the duration of their term together, making it all the more strange that he isn’t in public, rallying support from their base. Instead, after Trump’s Thursday speech claiming victory in states that have now been declared for Biden, Pence simply sent an email asking everyone to “remain vigilant.”
“As the President said, the right to vote has been at the center of our Democracy since the founding of this great Nation," the email said. That same day, Pence also tweeted, “I Stand With President @realDonaldTrump. We must count every LEGAL vote.”
While Pence’s use of language like “LEGAL vote” is a thinly coded reference to voter fraud, it is telling that he hasn’t done what the president or the president’s large adult sons did, and blatantly claimed that Democrats are trying to “steal” the election. For a man whose political career has been marked by calmly lying about Indiana’s HIV outbreak, and now downplaying the thousands of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S., it’s unusual that Pence wouldn’t use this opportunity — and his platform-at-large — to galvanize his camp with the same lies that Trump is currently spewing.
Perhaps Mike Pence is turning a new leaf, and resigning himself to the fact that he and Trump have been defeated. Perhaps he is trying to distance himself from the sinking ship that is Team Trump, and thinking about how best to position himself for his own presidential run in 2024. Or perhaps — and most likely of all — Pence, the head of the administration’s coronavirus response team, just has COVID, and is in hiding. We hope any flies who come in contact with him quarantine themselves for 14 days after they leave him.