Mike Pence’s lonely trip to Ireland will reportedly cost taxpayers at least $600,000.
According to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the vice president spent $599,000 in ground transportation fees during his visit to the coastal village of Doonbeg, where no one showed up to greet him. That price tag doesn't include airfare to and from Dublin, where he was scheduled to meet Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Pence reportedly shuttled back and forth between the two locations numerous times throughout the visit, despite being hundreds of miles apart.
The Second-in-Command also stayed at a Trump Hotel while he was in town, and those costs aren't accounted for in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics’ survey.
In contrast, Barack Obama's entire visit to the Emerald Isle cost less than a quarter of the price of Pence’s limo rides. According to NBC News, the former president spent around $114,000 visiting Ireland in 2011.
Have you ever had that terrible dream that you throw a big party and no one shows up? Your nightmare is officially Mike Pence’s reality.
A video posted by Occupy Democrats on Twitter shows that the streets of Doonbeg were a ghost town this week during the vice president’s visit to the Irish village. While Pence was in the Emerald Isle to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his husband, his great-grandmother reportedly grew up in the west coastal town.
Although the Irish Times reports that Pence stopped to “talk to local people gathered outside Morrissey’s pub” while attending a family dinner on Tuesday, the conversation couldn’t have lasted very long. The pub, where Pence worked during the summer of 1981, is visible at the :08 mark of the video, and the only people lurking outside appear to be the Second-in-Command’s security detail and other assorted police.
The difference in reception between Pence and previous representatives of the Oval Office is dramatic. When former President Obama discussed his Irish heritage in Dublin in May 2011, the streets were packed. At the time, the White House reported that “thousands” attended the address.
Twitter users responded to the Occupy Democrats video with photos of the overwhelming response from eight years earlier.
Those empty streets of Doonbeg, however, were perhaps the most fitting encapsulation of a trip that has gone anything but smoothly. Although Pence claimed his trip to Doonbeg — which is hundreds of miles away from Dublin and required a flight to journey between the two locations — was for family reasons, his boss, Donald Trump, just so happens to have a hotel there.
On Wednesday, Trump denied he had anything to do with Pence’s choice in accommodations. “I had no involvement,” he told press, “other than it’s a great place.”
The visit also raised eyebrows when Judd Deere, a spokesperson for the White House, claimed Pence’s meeting with Varadkar, who is openly gay, is proof that the Republican leader doesn’t hate LGBTQ+ people. It went about as well as you could expect.
Although Pence has now met with Varadkar twice — with the two reportedly discussing LGBTQ+ rights during his trip to Ireland last year — his views don’t appear to have changed much.
As governor of Indiana, he signed a law allowing people of faith to deny service to LGBTQ+ people in the name of religion and fought for a similar law as vice president. Pence has denied speculation he supported conversion therapy during his 2000 run for Congress but has also refused to condemn it.
LGBTQ+ people protested Pence's anti-equality history by holding a disco protest outside the Irish legislature on Tuesday. That party, at least, appears to have been well-attended.