breaking tradition
September 23, 2019

President Trump's re-election campaign "is increasingly grim about a repeat performance" in Michigan, where Trump eked out a win in 2016, Politico reports. But the campaign isn't giving up on the state entirely — this weekend, Vice President Mike Pence made his third trip to Michigan this year, traveling this time to quaint Mackinac Island to speak at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.

In a state where every vote will count in 2020 and Republicans lost big in 2018, Pence's visit might not have been a net positive.

The eight heavily armored SUVs that transported Pence from his helicopter to the Grand Hotel, less than a mile away, on Saturday afternoon made up the first-ever motorcade on the island, which banned motor vehicles in 1898. The ongoing ban on cars — or even electric scooters and bikes — is one of the island's biggest attractions, along with its Victorian charm and its fudge. Most people walk, bike, or use horses — even VIPs.

Pence was the first sitting vice president to visit Mackinac, but President Gerald Ford made the trip in 1975 — and rode in a horse-drawn carriage. Former Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton also visited the island without using motor vehicles.

Pence had his defenders, like Michigan state Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R), whose district includes Mackinac Island and shrugged off the motorcade as "the nature of the security these days."

But the critics appeared to outnumber them. Former journalist and Michigan native Ron Fournier called Pence's motorcade "sacrilege" and "obscene," telling the Detroit Free Press: "No security expert would claim it's necessary." Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren was also appalled, but Democrats hit harder. "Banned for a century people, and here comes the Trump Administration trampling all over it, like they do the U.S. Constitution," tweeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Peter Weber

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