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Pence Appeals to Gay Olympic Figure Skater Who Reportedly Snubbed Him

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday sent a message of support to an openly gay American figure skater who’d reportedly turned down an invitation to meet with him at the Winter Games over his stance on gay rights. Tweeting directly to Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, Pence offered a personal note of encouragement for the Games. “I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold,” he wrote. The message came after Pence complained of “one reporter” trying to “sow seeds of division” ahead of the Games. Pence appeared to be referring to a USA Today report Wednesday that claimed he’d reached out to Rippon through the U.S. Olympic Committee in a bid to set up a meeting and been turned down. According to the report, Pence sought the meeting after reading an article in which Rippon criticized his views on gay rights and support for conversion therapy. Jarrod Agen, the VP’s communications director, denied late Wednesday that Pence had ever tried to meet with Rippon, calling the USA Today article “false.” However, early Thursday, an unnamed White House official confirmed to USA Today that Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers did contact the USOC and offered to “have someone from the vice president's team explain to Rippon the confusion over Pence’s stance” and that Pence “would meet with Rippon or speak with him over the phone if he preferred.”