Vice President Mike Pence (left), Gov. Brian Kemp (center) and first lady Marty Kemp at the Star Cafe in Atlanta on Friday, May 22, 2020. (Photo: JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM)
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC
Photo: JOHN SPINK / AJC/JOHN SPINK / AJC

Déjà vu: Pence returns to Atlanta for second Friday in a row

For the second time in a week, Vice President Mike Pence has flown into Dobbins Air Reserve Base to meet with business leaders to talk about Georgia’s coronavirus response and honor the memory of a prominent evangelist. 

Pence landed at Dobbins around 10 a.m. before heading to a memorial service for Ravi Zacharias, who died last week after a career traveling the globe to defend Christianity. He’ll then meet with small business owners before returning to Washington. 

Pence said he forged a deep personal friendship with Zacharias and that “God put him at my side at just the right time, with a word of wisdom, and kindness and encouragement that I’ll never forget.”


Later, at a stop at Unity National Bank, Pence addressed the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.



Just last Friday, Pence trekked to Georgia to huddle with restaurant owners and meet with Gov. Brian Kemp, praising the state as “an example to the nation” by being one of the first to lift economic limits imposed during the pandemic. 

“In a very real sense, I think history will record that Georgia helped lead the way back to a prosperous American economy,” Pence told reporters during that visit after a barbecue lunch with the governor and first lady Marty Kemp.

Pence’s comments made clear the White House supported Kemp’s approach, weeks after President Donald Trump strongly criticized the governor for allowing barber shops, tattoo parlors and other businesses to reopen if they follow safety guidelines. 

During that visit, Pence also made an unscheduled stop Zacharias’ ministry near Alpharetta with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins. The two paid their respects for about 30 minutes before taking photos with supporters on the street outside.

Democrats have accused Kemp of too quickly reopening the state’s economy, saying his measures put Georgia’s fiscal health over the safety of its citizens. 

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign said Friday that Pence will try to paint an optimistic picture that “runs contrary to the truth.”

“This trip is another attempt to distract Georgians from the Trump Administration’s botched COVID-19 response,” said Biden spokesman T.J. Ducklo. 

“Peach State residents see right through it and they deserve better. In November, they’ll have the opportunity to reject the ineptitude that got us here and vote for Joe Biden.” 

Since Pence’s last visit, the state has continued to relax coronavirus restrictions. Kemp on Thursday signed an executive order that allowed larger gatherings and cleared the way for bars and nightclubs to reopen. 

Pence also floated Georgia this week as a site of the Republican National Convention, leading Kemp to say the state would be “honored to safely host” the gathering. That came after Trump threatened to move the convention from Charlotte unless the state’s governor can guarantee full attendance. 

>>More: Georgia Republicans aim to 'safely host' RNC; Atlanta mayor. 

>>More: How Pence’s visit highlighted Georgia’s tense GOP Senate race 

>>More: Pence touts Georgia's economic reopening 

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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