Former Vice President Mike Pence Returns to Indiana After Avoiding Trump Sendoff
Former Vice President Mike Pence is back home in the Hoosier state.
After attending the Inauguration Day ceremonies for President Joe Biden and Pence's successor, Vice President Kamala Harris — and notably not attending the sendoff for President Donald Trump — Pence and his family flew from Washington, D.C., back to Indiana, where the family is expected to relocate.
Pence, former Second Lady Karen Pence and their oldest daughter, Charlotte Pence Bond, were aboard the flight back to Indiana, where Pence served as governor from 2013 until 2017, when he headed to the White House.
Pence previously represented the state in the House of Representatives from 2001 until he was elected governor.
The family landed at Columbus Municipal Airport around 2 p.m. local time Wednesday while "Back Home Again in Indiana" played upon their arrival, according to local media reports.
Moments later, the former vice president, 61, and his family were greeted by a couple dozen supporters — roughly 60, The Indianapolis Star reported — and he delivered brief remarks.
"Well, hello Indiana," he said, squinting in the sunlight with the former second lady, 64, waving to his left. She put a hand over her heart to thank the crowd gathered to welcome them. On the podium in front of Pence, a blue sign read: "Back Home Again."
"I've already promised Karen will be moving back to Indiana come this summer," the former vice president announced, according to the Star. "There's no place like home."
"He and Karen are going to take some time to think about and pray on what their next steps are," says Kyle Hupfer, the chairman of the Indiana GOP who has known Pence for more than a decade.
Hupfer projected optimism about Pence's legacy, after four tumultuous years working with Trump as a loyal lieutenant who spoke up for him in many a scandal only to see the relationship fray when Pence refused to challenge Congress' certification of the election on the same day a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol
"I think Americans view him as a calm and steady leader," Hupfer told PEOPLE.
Pence did not say exactly where he and the former second lady would move, though the pomp and circumstance surrounding his return to the state signaled they would remain there for the indefinite future.
"It's great to be back home again," he said. "To be able to fly home to my hometown means more than I can tell you. To look out at this crowd, so far I haven't seen one face that I haven't known for years."
It was comfort after much chaos and controversy in the White House.
Around the same time Pence returned to Indiana Wednesday, his erstwhile boss was in Palm Beach, Florida, having made the unusual decision to skip the inauguration ahead of his upcoming unprecedented impeachment trial for inciting the Capitol mob.
The throngs of Trump supporters who breached the building on Jan. 6 during a joint session of Congress had forced Pence, his wife and their oldest daughter along with others to briefly go into hiding until the area was secure again.
The vice president overlooked their rocky past two weeks enough to thank former Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump during his remarks Wednesday, however.
The Trumps, for their part, made a quick exit from the White House earlier that morning.
Pence returned home after overseeing the handoff to the next administration at the inauguration, standing feet away from Harris, 56, as she was sworn in to become the next vice president — the first woman, first Black and first person of South Asian descent to hold the nation's second-highest office.
After the swearing-in ceremony, Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, walked the Pences down the steps of the Capitol where they were seen sharing a brief chat and a laugh, before Pence got into an SUV to head to the airport and Harris waved goodbye.
"Serving as your vice president was the greatest honor of our life," Pence said after landing in Indiana. "But now that that season of service has come to an end, we just had to come home."
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