Pence takes a global role as Trump broods

One is huddling with the Russian President, gripping-and-grinning with the Japanese prime minister and press...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 11:46 AM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 11:46 AM

One is huddling with the Russian President, gripping-and-grinning with the Japanese prime minister and pressing Myanmar's ruler to free imprisoned journalists.

The other is tweeting fury at the special counsel, sitting for lengthy sessions with his private attorneys and working to salvage his image as commander in chief after it took a bruising thanks to a canceled cemetery visit.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Donald Trump

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Journalism and news media

Media industry

Mike Pence

Military

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

Politics

US federal government

Vladimir Putin

White House

This week, as Vice President Mike Pence crosses Asia assuming duties traditionally carried out by the President, his boss Donald Trump remains back in Washington to brood over electoral losses and the special counsel probe.

He is skipping the yearly summits that usually bring US presidents around the globe for meetings with counterparts and high-profile speeches meant to illustrate American commitment in the region. Trump, who attended the gatherings last year but departed early, sent his No. 2 instead.

"Overall, it's just a very bad optic when we don't show up," said Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who was considered for an ambassadorship to South Korea in the Trump administration. "(Pence will) be there. And there are small things that they'll be doing. But the overall message is going to be there's disinterest and it's not a priority. And that's not good, given the broader context of what's happening in Asia."

US officials have insisted that Trump's absence from the summits doesn't amount to a snub. Pence told a gathering on Wednesday that he'd just spoken to the President by phone and he "asked me to convey his regards and greetings and appreciation to each of you."

And US presidents have missed the gatherings in the past, though for last-minute reasons, such as a government shutdown, and not as a planned non-appearance.

Still, with Trump deciding to skip this year's summits, other leaders have sought to fill the void. Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Singapore to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia Summit meetings, where he worked to strengthen economic and military ties in the region. Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea, hoping to advance Beijing's influence in the South Pacific.

Pence is there, too, but without the draw of being his country's No. 1.

Reclaim his standing

Trump will have an opportunity to reclaim his global standing in two weeks, when he travels to Argentina for two days of meetings at the G20 summit, including with the presidents of China and Russia. But for now it is Pence doing the talking while Trump has largely withdrawn.

That's a marked shift from before the midterm elections, when the President was traveling constantly to promote Republican candidates at loud, hour-long rallies. He conducted a string of interviews and stopped at nearly every opportunity to speak with journalists as he was coming and going from the White House.

Now, Trump is remaining mostly quiet. He scrapped a planned trip to the southern border this week, officials said. His public schedule has been relatively light, though he'll preside over a Medal of Freedom ceremony on Friday and tour fire damage in California on Saturday. The President has met the last three days with his attorneys to discuss written responses to special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a source familiar with the matter, including a meeting Wednesday night with Rudy Giuliani.

He sat for a friendly interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday, but has not engaged in a public back and forth with reporters for nearly a week. He last took questions from the press corps on Friday, ahead of his visit to Paris.

Even abroad, Trump eschewed a heavy itinerary of diplomacy with the world leaders gathered in the French capital to commemorate the World War I armistice. He met only with his host, French President Emmanuel Macron, and held short informal discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

For hours on Saturday afternoon, Trump was without any official activities after a planned visit to an American cemetery outside Paris was canceled because of rain. Instead, he remained at the US ambassador's residence getting updates on election recounts commencing back home and watching television. As they have on previous foreign swings, staffers had ensured that televisions inside the ambassador's residence -- the second empire Hôtel de Pontalba on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré -- had Fox News available for the President's viewing.

Trump grumbled that he was kept away from the action back home, where election recounts were getting underway in key Senate and governors' races. With nothing to do for six hours in the middle of the afternoon, Trump demanded updates on the races and details about the state officials responsible for the counting.

The scrapped cemetery visit sparked virulent backlash, with some of Trump's critics suggesting he wasn't willing to brave the inclement weather to honor fallen American troops. The White House insisted that was not the case, citing logistical and security concerns that prevented the President from traveling to the site.

Image of a military-minded leader

After the controversy, Trump has worked to fortify his image as a military-minded leader. He visited Marines at their barracks in Washington on Thursday before delivering remarks at the White House laying out the steps his administration has taken to support veterans.

But if there was one person holding the mantle of US statesmanship this week, it has been Pence, who met in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before traveling to Singapore and onward to Australia and Papua New Guinea for the summit talks.

He's taken on hefty diplomatic tasks, such as confronting Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi over the treatment of her country's stateless Rohingya Muslim population. Even as back home the White House was going to court over the suspension of CNN reporter Jim Acosta's credentials, Pence pressed Suu Kyi over the imprisonment of two Reuters journalists.

"I look forward to speaking to you about the premium that we place on a free and independent press," Pence told Suu Kyi ahead of their talks.

Later, cameras caught Pence in intense conversation with Putin, with national security adviser John Bolton between them. Bolton had traveled with Pence to Asia rather than remain behind in Washington with Trump. In his absence, Trump dismissed his deputy Mira Ricardel. Pence raised the 2016 election meddling with Putin, aides said.

Later this week he travels onward to Papua New Guinea for the APEC meetings, where Xi will take center stage. Like every year, leaders will pose for a photo in a traditional shirt. But for the first time since 2013 -- when Obama canceled a planned appearance in Bali because of a government shutdown -- the US president won't be there.

At last year's APEC meeting in Vietnam, the event's organizers faced a last minute scramble to change the color of a giant onstage screen from orange to blue after American officials raised urgent concerns the the President would disappear if he stood in front of the electronic, apricot-hued screen.

With no Trump, they're breathing easier this year.

Huntsville
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 70°
Florence
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Fayetteville
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
Decatur
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 69°
Scottsboro
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 159439

Reported Deaths: 2699
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23443377
Mobile16934315
Tuscaloosa10414140
Montgomery10298197
Madison939496
Shelby743663
Baldwin669469
Lee655065
Calhoun462161
Marshall441150
Etowah431251
Morgan418235
Houston418034
DeKalb346129
Elmore322753
St. Clair299942
Limestone289330
Walker282392
Talladega267435
Cullman250824
Lauderdale231342
Jackson217515
Autauga207431
Franklin206131
Colbert204132
Russell19533
Blount194225
Chilton189332
Dallas187227
Coffee179511
Dale177251
Covington175529
Escambia173030
Clarke135317
Chambers135244
Pike134413
Tallapoosa133087
Marion109729
Barbour10339
Marengo102522
Butler101340
Winston93713
Geneva9167
Lawrence86132
Pickens86018
Bibb84314
Randolph82916
Hale77730
Clay74912
Washington74912
Cherokee74514
Henry7196
Lowndes71428
Bullock64917
Monroe64810
Crenshaw60930
Perry5936
Fayette58413
Cleburne5738
Wilcox57012
Conecuh56113
Macon53720
Lamar5065
Sumter47321
Choctaw39212
Greene34616
Coosa2053
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 249866

Reported Deaths: 3163
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby36685565
Davidson31975343
Knox1284891
Rutherford12017115
Hamilton11867109
Williamson718756
Sumner6184112
Wilson473159
Putnam445657
Montgomery424057
Out of TN415136
Sullivan381946
Madison381479
Bradley361923
Washington356951
Maury338938
Blount337436
Sevier336423
Robertson262842
Hamblen247548
Tipton238123
Unassigned22615
Dyer224732
Gibson217244
Coffee192325
Hardeman190533
Greene181252
Obion179522
Trousdale17768
Bedford174520
Dickson170719
Fayette169825
Anderson169713
McMinn165937
Lawrence164520
Loudon164311
Cumberland161327
Wayne16047
Carter158334
Weakley157326
Jefferson156421
Monroe147228
Warren144910
Lauderdale144117
Henderson142126
Hardin140420
Macon134825
Roane13217
Franklin130220
Haywood129728
Overton122917
Hawkins122625
White119414
Johnson11577
Marshall115710
Carroll115326
McNairy113427
Rhea112418
Cocke108014
Cheatham106911
Campbell103512
Bledsoe10264
Smith99413
Lake9873
Giles98336
Fentress91811
Lincoln9173
Crockett87020
Hickman81015
Henry80211
Marion7839
DeKalb73717
Chester73314
Decatur66311
Grainger6124
Grundy57511
Union5463
Claiborne5286
Polk51713
Humphreys4584
Jackson4535
Morgan4437
Unicoi4333
Houston42317
Benton4219
Cannon4212
Lewis4185
Clay40615
Scott3865
Sequatchie3472
Stewart33611
Meigs3296
Perry3082
Pickett2748
Moore2722
Van Buren2081
Hancock1213

Community Events