Olympian Adam Rippon doesn’t think Vice President Mike Pence is the right man for the job.
Rippon, the 2016 U.S. figure skating champion and an openly gay member of the American team heading to South Korea for the Winter Games, is not a fan of the White House’s pick to lead the official U.S. Olympic delegation next month.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon asked when interviewed by USA TODAY Sports’ Christine Brennan.
Rippon, who finished fourth at the recent U.S. national championships, wasn’t shy about voicing his opinion.
“I don’t think (Pence) has a real concept of reality,” Rippon told USA TODAY Sports. “To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory. If he’s okay with what’s being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called ‘s—holes,’ I think he should really go to church.”
When asked about a possible meet-and-greet with the VP — which could happen before the opening ceremony — Rippon was equally as blunt.
“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt had gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person, but that they think that they’re sick.”
The former Indiana governor has a long history of opposing policies that protect LGBTQ Americans. Pence has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Pence denied supporting conversion therapy — trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation — when he joined Donald Trump on the Republican ticket in 2016. But when Pence was running for Congress in 2000 his website said that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
The VP’s press secretary again denied the conversion therapy support in a statement emailed to the Daily News.
Adam Rippon doesn’t think Vice President Pence ‘has a real concept of reality.’
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
“The Vice President is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes. This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact.
“Despite these misinformed claims, the Vice President will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang.”
Rippon also joined American skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn in saying he would turn down a post-Olympic invite to visit Trump’s White House.
Vonn told CNN in December that she hopes “to represent the people of the United States, not the president.”
Rippon said he would be willing to find that common ground with Pence, but only after he’s done skating.
“If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,” Rippon told the newspaper. “He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. … But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”
Pence is no stranger to the mix of sports and politics. He staged a walk-out in October before a game between the Colts and 49ers over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence wrote on Twitter.