Mike Pence Denies Trying To Set Up Meeting With Openly Gay Olympian


The first openly gay Winter Olympic athlete, figure skater Adam Rippon and Vice President Mike Pence are involved in a bizarre stand-off of sorts. A reporter from USA Today said that Pence’s staff tried to set up a meeting between Pence and Rippon, but Pence’s office denied any such meeting.

Here’s the statement from Pence’s office:

The Vice President’s office did not reach out to set up a conversation with Mr. Rippon. As we’ve said before, the Vice President is supporting all the U.S. athletes in the Olympics and is hoping they all win medals,” deputy chief of staff Jarrod Agen said in a statement.

USA Today’s Christine Brennan stood by her report, which relied on three sources, appearing on CNN to talk about her interview with Rippon. (See the video below)

Brennan asked the figure skater about his thoughts on Pence leading the U.S. delegation for the opening ceremonies on Friday. Rippon was critical of Pence’s long history of anti-LGBT politics.

Adam did not hold back and he said, ‘You mean Mike Pence, the man who funds gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,’and then he launched into quite an attack on not only the Vice President but the President of the United States,” said Brennan.

Brennan published the story online on January 17th, and within the hour, Pence’s Press Secretary contacted her to dispute Pence’s stance on conversion therapy. When Pence ran for Congress in 2000, he had called for “funding directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” According to Brennan, Pence’s Press Secretary would not answer on the record if shock therapy would be included in the definition of gay conversion therapy.

Brennan ran Rippon’s statement and continued to get more details, including that Pence “wanted to have a conversation with Adam Rippon, and that Adam Rippon declined that invitation.” Later, Rippon said he would be willing to meet with Pence for an “open conversation,” but only after the Olympics.

Taking a page from the Trump playbook, Pence Tweeted about the story, calling it fake news:

Immediately after that, he tweeted another statement to Adam Rippon directly:

Pence received backlash on Twitter from those pointing out his anti-LGBT record.

Here are a few responses:

Meanwhile, Adam didn’t seem particularly phased by Pence. He’s got medals to win after all. We wish him all the luck at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

See a CNN interview with USA Today reporter Christine Brennan below: