Vice President Mike Pence visiting Vermont
Vice President Mike Pence is in Vermont.
WCAX News was there when Air Force Two touched down in Burlington Friday afternoon. There was a heavy police presence for what many consider a surprise visit.
The vice president is in Hubbardton around Lake Hortonia. People we spoke with in the community say they didn't even hear Pence was coming and that it's all been very hush, hush.
Those in and around Hubbardton say one thing is for sure-- it's a tranquil place to live.
"Peace and quiet, it's what brought us here," Greg Fontaine said.
And a trip from Vice President Mike Pence has been kept quiet, too.
Greg and Lisa Fontaine, owners of G&L General Store in Benson, say there have only been whispers around Lake Hortonia. But they do say Secret Service stopped by before Pence's visit.
"Rather surprising that he would want to come to a small, little, remote area in Vermont like this," Greg Fontaine said.
Pence's trip was unannounced but WCAX News captured a heavy police presence on Camp Road near Lake Hortonia.
Even Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders were unaware of his visit. The governor's office says Gov. Phil Scott is not scheduled to meet with the vice president either.
Hubbardton town officials say they, too, didn't know he was coming.
"Unbelievable," said Robert Gibbs, a selectman. "To come to this town, I just don't quite see it."
In a town of about 700, Gibbs says they haven't had a big visit like this in a long time.
"Supposedly President Eisenhower came here in the early '50s," Gibbs said.
Back at G&L, the Fontaines say they are ready for a vice presidential welcome.
"I think it's pretty exciting. All the locals are talking. Gives us all something to talking about," Greg Fontaine said. "I'd ask him how he's doing, what would you like?"
"Buy him a cup of coffee," Lisa Fontaine said.
His office said Friday that Pence planned to spend the Labor Day weekend in Vermont with his family.
Shortly after arriving, Pence made an unannounced visit to Plymouth Notch to visit the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. Pence is an admirer of Coolidge and keeps a portrait of Coolidge in his office.
The vice president has no public events scheduled during the weekend.
PENCE MOTORCADE TRAVELS THROUGH VERMONT
The vice president's visit caused some traffic tie-ups in Chittenden County.
Our Cat Viglienzoni was along the motorcade route Friday afternoon in South Burlington. It's definitely not a sight you normally see in Vermont. The motorcade went by quickly but if you were along the route, you couldn't miss it.
Friday afternoon ahead of the holiday weekend, Air Force Two soared above Camel's Hump and descended into the Burlington International Airport.
On board-- Vice President Mike Pence, though our cameras were not allowed close enough to see the man himself.
Still, Vermont law enforcement was not leaving anything to chance. State and local police, and federal authorities were all present to escort the vice president on his Green Mountain getaway.
A helicopter circling overhead above Lime Kiln Road in the minutes before the motorcade arrived.
On the road, a multicar escort traveled through South Burlington to Colchester along Lime Kiln Road. Some residents put politics aside to watch the brief spectacle.
Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: What was it like to see the motorcade go by?
Sandy Lucas/South Burlington: It was very interesting. It's our government at work, I guess. Gives you chills, kind of... We couldn't see the VP, so that's too bad.
She wasn't the only resident who came out after seeing Channel 3's special report to see if the vice president would swing by this way. He did, of course. And they said seeing his motorcade was a pretty neat experience.
"It's kind of nice, in my old age, to see that," Lucas laughed.
From there, the motorcade traveled down Interstate 89. Exits along busy Williston Road were blocked off. The whole southbound side of the interstate-- empty. Midday lunchtime traffic was shut down to allow the motorcade a wide berth along the main artery through Chittenden County.
"We know the roads best and they rely on us for that expertise," N.H. State Police Lt. Sean Haggerty said.
Haggerty is the special services commander and Secret Service liaison for New Hampshire State Police. He's not involved in this visit at all, but gave us insight into how Secret Service works with local authorities to map out the safest routes.
"We work closely with Secret Service on routes to travel. And they certainly take your input on to what time of day they are coming and what would be the best route of travel, alternate route of travel," Haggerty said.
Another thing he said they help with-- manpower.
SENATORS REACT TO VICE PRESIDENT'S VISIT
Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders were unaware the vice president would be visiting. They both released statements upon hearing the news.
In a statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said:
"Marcelle and I and Governor Scott were with the Vice President and his wife in the Capitol Rotunda this morning for the sad occasion of the arrival of Senator John McCain's casket.
"I am glad to hear that they are able to now visit the most beautiful state in the country, and I hope they enjoy their time in Vermont."
In a statement, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, said,
"We welcome the Vice President to our state and hope he enjoys his stay."