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After initially declining to meet with Mike Pence during the 2018 Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang and criticizing his views on gay rights, figure skater Adam Rippon now says that he would be open to talking to the vice president of the United States.
On The Late Show, Rippon said the meeting that he declined with Pence, a gathering of Team USA with the official U.S. delegation, would have been distracting while he was training for his skating events. “You know while I’m training I usually turn down going to the movies with my friends,” Rippon said. “So I was thinking that a phone call with the vice president might be more distracting than going to Olive Garden.”
Colbert joked that there would be fewer breadsticks in meeting Pence during the informal gathering at Pyeongchang as well. “Or soup and salad for $5,” Rippon said, pausing while the audience laughed.
Rippon’s initial comments about Pence came during a USA Today interview that published Jan. 17 in which Rippon criticized the choice of Pence to lead the U.S. delegation to Pyeongchang. “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon, the first openly gay U.S. Winter Olympian, said. “I’m not buying it.”
When asked if he would like to meet Pence at the usual gathering of Team USA and U.S. delegation members before the opening ceremony, Rippon added, ““If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has 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,” Rippon said. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”
He also criticized Pence’s support of Trump’s remarks on foreigners and the president’s alleged “shithole” comments, saying that he thought the support was antithetical to the vice president’s Christian beliefs.
Two weeks later, USA Today reported that Pence’s office had asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to arrange a meeting between Rippon and the vice president, but that Rippon would not meet with Pence. Pence appeared to deny the validity of the report in a series of tweets saying, “One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old nonstory to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS,” referring to claims since his 2000 run for Congress that he has supported gay conversion therapy.
Pence then added in a separate tweet that addressed Rippon, “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you.”
For the rest of his appearance on The Late Show, Rippon also talked about what motivated him to perform at his top abilities during the games. “I remember going into one of my triple axels, I went into one of them and I thought, ‘If I fall on this, Leslie Jones will be screaming on television,’ and I used that as my motivation. That is 100 percent factual.”
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