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VP Pence calls off Tucson visit, citing 'abundance of caution' as CV-19 cases spike

Vice President Mike Pence won't make a trip to Tucson on Tuesday after all, with the White House citing "an abundance of caution" in "postponing" the event. The cancellation of the speech comes as COVID-19 cases in Arizona continue to spike, with 3,591 new reported cases disclosed by state officials on Saturday, with 44 additional deaths.

Pence had been set to speak as part of his "Faith in America Tour" at the Westin La Paloma Resort.

But Saturday morning, the Trump re-election campaign sent an email to those who had registered online for "tickets" to the event, announcing that the appearance was off.

"Out of an abundance of caution, this event has been postponed," it read, underlining the last word in that sentence. "We look forward to rescheduling and being back in Tucson soon!"

The Trump campaign had included a statement meant to release the political group and the resort from any responsibility if attendees contracted coronavirus at the campaign event.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and Sheriff Mark Napier informed the campaign on Friday of the county ordinance that mandates wearing face masks if social distancing is not possible. The Trump campaign included a link to that order in the release statement:

By registering for this event, you understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. In attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release, and discharge Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers from any and all liability under any theory, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any illness or injury. Pima County has issued an ordinance that requires face masks when social distancing isn't possible. All attendees will be provided a face mask and hand sanitizer upon arrival. Click here to see the ordinance: https://webcms.pima.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=563362

The page on the Trump website that announced the event and asked potential attendees to provide their email addresses and phone numbers to the reelection campaign was taken down.

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While the Trump campaign did not release any statement to the press in Arizona (the online page for reporters to sign up to cover the event was still operating on Saturday morning), the Democratic Party used the cancellation to blast Trump's handling of the pandemic.

"Coronavirus cases in Florida and Arizona are spiking thanks to Trump's ineffective response to this crisis — and the fact they were trying to hold unsafe events in these states at all is just another demonstration of their incompetence and bad judgment," Democratic National Committee spokesman David Bergstein said in a news release following TucsonSentinel.com's initial report on the event being called off.

"The truth is that the spike in these states is an indictment of Trump's botched handling of this pandemic, and it's clear Pence can’t defend their record," he said.

After his speech, Pence had been scheduled to travel to Yuma to meet with Gov. Doug Ducey to speak about efforts the state is taking to battle COVID-19 in the city, which has become major hot spot of the disease in the state.

Last week, a White House announcement of the trip said that Pence was heading to "Tuscon."

Recent polling has shown that the Trump campaign may be flagging in Arizona, with a dozen polls completed since February showing Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden running neck-and-neck in the battleground state. 

Pence — tapped as the head of White House's coronavirus task force — will come to Arizona as COVID-19 cases have spiked to record levels in Arizona, California and Texas. Overall, about 2.3 million people in the United States have been infected by the virus, and about 120,000 people have died, including 1,579 people in Arizona alone.

Last week, the vice president claimed in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal that even as coronavirus cases are spiking across the Southwest, the nation is wining the fight against the virus thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the "courage" of the American people. 

Pence last visited Southern Arizona in October, joining U.S. Sen. Martha McSally at series of private events in Green Valley, Phoenix and Scottsdale, including a fundraiser and speech at Caterpillar's testing center south of Tucson to promote the Trump administration's United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

That junket forced the closure of Interstate 19 for an afternoon so that Pence could visit the facility. 

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Previously, Pence came to Southern Arizona to visit Nogales in April 2019 for what local officials called a "photo op" as the vice president toured the border wall near the border city.

TucsonSentinel.com’s Paul Ingram contributed to this report.


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Jun 27, 2020, 4:45 pm
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If there was an abundance of caution, the event would have been cancelled two weeks ago. This is more like a paucity of caution replacing its abject absense. Ah Pence, with his a smarmy insults to intelligence. His Jedi mind tricks do not work on us.

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Dan Shearer/Green Valley News

Pence speaking in Green Valley in October 2019.