Vice President Mike Pence didn’t quite get into the spirit of the friendly, laid-back — and carless — Mackinac Island in northern Michigan Saturday. Instead, the strait-laced VP rolled into town in a motorcade of not one, but eight black SUVs for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference. And the locals didn’t like it.
Except for emergency vehicles, cars have been prohibited on the island for 121 years. Locals traveling any distance primarily use bikes or horse-drawn carriages. Pence’s motorcade was the first-ever on the picturesque island, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Michigan governors and former presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have all visited Mackinac Island — and none needed a motorcade. Ford, the only sitting president to visit, traveled by carriage. The Secret Service reportedly sneaked a car onto the island for his visit but kept it hidden and never used it.
Critics on Twitter berated Pence for his arrogance, insensitivity, and disdain for local tradition and the environment. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) was hardly surprised. Detroit native and former Associated Press journalist Ron Fournier called the motorcade “obscene.” Former Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren was taken aback.