GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) – Vice President Mike Pence and his wife greeted members of the West Michigan community Tuesday while they walked in Grandville’s Fourth of July parade.
“Karen and I are just excited to be back in Michigan, and to see the patriotism on display here is just truly inspiring,” the vice president told 24 Hour News 8 after the parade. “We just so enjoy the Fourth of July, to see the outpouring of pride in our nation and it’s evident on the streets of Grandville today. It’s just a joy for our family to be a small part of it.”
Winning Midwest states — albeit by a small margin — is how President Donald Trump and Pence got elected. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin are bound to be key if they are to win again in 2020, and they already started campaigning for that election.
Confirmation of Pence’s short visit, which had been highly rumored for more than a week, was last-minute. Just as Air Force Two landed at Gerald R. Ford International Airport around 10:15 a.m., Pence tweeted, “Karen & I area looking forward to walking in the Grandville Independence Day Parade later today!”
Prior to his arrival, temporary flight restrictions were put in place over Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Flight restrictions were also issued over Grandville during the parade, which began at 11 a.m.
It’s unusual for a sitting vice president to walk in a mostly unsecured parade. Before the event started, 24 Hour News 8 saw local police and Secret Service members scanning parade attendees along the parade route, which followed Wilson Avenue from 44th Street to Prairie Street.
Pence drew even larger crowds to the already popular parade. He was surrounded by a ring of Secret Service agents, but often walked within feet of people lining the street and occasionally stopped to shake hands and take photos.
“This is the most exciting Grandville parade we’ve been at in many years,” Marsha De Hollander said.
She was out at the parade with her mother, Theresa Meyer, who is an immigrant from the Netherlands.
“I immigrated in 1945 right here in Grandville,” Meyer said.
They were among the few people who were allowed in the secure area where Secret Service was using a metal detector on people and searching belongings. Meyer shook the vice president’s hand and snapped his picture.
“That was exciting. I wish he was my president,” she said.
Marla and Steve Maring brought their grandsons to the parade. They didn’t know they would get a picture and be able to chat with the Pences.
“I just told them they are doing an awesome job,” Marla Maring said.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, also walked in the parade.
Most people were happy to see Pence, but there were a few protesters lined up along the parade route, one carrying a sign that read, “Health care is a human right.”
Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has hit a stumbling block in the U.S. Senate, where leaders are still trying to drum up enough votes to pass their bill. But Pence seemed confident a deal will be reached soon.
“On health care reform, you better believe it. This president is in the promise-keeping business,” he said. “Before this summer is out, I think we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people the kind of world-class health care that they deserve. … Built on principals of individual responsibility, free markets and allow states like Michigan to reform their Medicaid program in ways that will meet the needs of the most vulnerable.”
Despite his optimism, the clock is working against the GOP. Lawmakers will return to Washington only briefly before their August break, meaning they will have only days to achieve what they haven’t been able to do in four months.
After his appearance in the parade, Pence’s motorcade took him back Ford Airport. Around 1:45 p.m., Air Force Two took off with a crowd of onlookers at the airport’s viewing area.
VP Mike Pence visits West Michigan for Fourth of July
VP Mike Pence visits West Michigan for Fourth of July x
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–24 Hour News 8’s Heather Walker contributed to this report.