Once again, the vice president has the thankless and pointless task of trying to clean up after Donald Trump.
On Thursday, Mike Pence travels to Texas to meet with victims of Hurricane Harvey and “assess the damage.”
That’s something Donald Trump did not do during his photo op trip to Texas on Tuesday.
Trump crowed about his crowd size at what looked like a small campaign rally. And while he never met with a single victim of the hurricane, or went anywhere near the damage, he later tweeted about “witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.”
The Washington bureau chief for the Dallas News swiftly debunked that claim.
Asked to explain what Trump meant, his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, gave an absurd response during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One Wednesday:
He met with a number of state and local officials who are eating, sleeping, breathing the Harvey disaster. He talked extensively with the governor, who certainly is right in the midst of every bit of this, as well as the mayors from several of the local towns that were hit hardest. And detailed briefing information throughout the day yesterday talking to a lot of the people on the ground — that certainly is a firsthand account.
Of course, Sanders’ explanation certainly is not a firsthand account. And so, on top of the criticism of Trump’s bizarre and inappropriate tweeting throughout the weekend, and his gleeful behavior during his trip to Texas, the White House now has to deal with criticism for another obvious Trump lie.
Cue Mike Pence.
Pence, according to the White House press office, will be in Texas on Thursday to do what Trump would not or could not do: meet with actual survivors of the storm. Meeting with victims of a tragedy is standard operating procedure for a president, though of course this president rejects all standards and norms.
His vice president, on the other hand, has a much better understanding of what it means to look presidential. That’s why he tweeted, but then deleted, a picture of himself over the weekend, on the phone in his office, dealing with the hurricane while Trump vacationed with his family at Camp David.
The deletion of that photo suggests Pence or his team, who have tried to shut down the growing talk about Pence preparing for a run at the White House in 2020, might have had second thoughts about showing Pence looking too presidential.
If Pence happens to get caught on camera hugging any victims — something Trump of course never did — he might want to make sure those don’t get tweeted out either. His job, after all, is to try to make Trump look better, instead of looking like an actual president himself.