Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a crowd of people at the Iowa State Fair yesterday trying to get his slow-to-start presidential campaign off the ground when a man casually carrying a drink walked by and told him he was “glad they didn’t hang” him.
The man, who wore a blue “Iowa Yacht Club” T-shirt with a Grateful Dead skull motif, white shorts, sunglasses, and a black baseball cap, carried a beer in one hand and hovered around the edge of a circle of people surrounding Pence.
He nodded a few times then gave Pence an ironic thumbs up as he left, repeating himself one more time, saying “I’m glad they didn’t hang you” as a woman walking by him raised her voice to say “come ON” as they walked away together.
“This is the kindest thing anyone has said to Mike all week,” Twitter user @sayer_of_stuff reacted.
“This is just an objectively wild statement in general,” wrote Twitter user @marksiembida, “but even more wild to say out loud in public lmao.”
At a hearing on the Capitol riot last summer, the January 6th Committee showed videos of rioters in the U.S. Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” over and over. In another clip, a man says he heard reports that “Pence caved” and certified the election for President Joe Biden.
Protestors also built gallows in front of the Capitol, captured in a now iconic-image which the New York Times described as “clearly convey[ing] a threat of physical violence.”
“I’m telling you, if Pence caved, we’re going to drag that motherfucker through the street,” one man said in a clip shown by the committee.
Pence spoke at the Iowa State Fair soapbox for 21 minutes on Thursday, according to the New York Times. He made references to Donald Trump as his “former running mate” and “the former president,” but didn’t say Trump’s name once.
It wasn’t all compliments and praise for Pence though.
The Times also reported that a Democratic Party activist named David Stelzer asked Pence a question accusing him of committing treason on Jan. 6 by certifying the election, a piece of “political performance art” designed to get Pence to provide an accounting of what happened on that day.
“People deserve to know that on that day, the former president asked me to choose between him and the Constitution,” Pence replied. “I chose the Constitution and I always will.”
“He’s starting to win them over!” wrote the Nation writer @HeerJeet. “Here’s how could play out. 1. Voters acknowledge Pence shouldn’t be lynched. 2.?? 3. They vote for him[.] 4. Victory.”
“Civility is not dead,” wrote Twitter user @ksusys in response to the kind affirmation Pence got.