STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

USA Today: Gay Olympic athlete turns down Pence meeting

US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after criticizing him for h...

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 11:15 AM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 11:15 AM

US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after criticizing him for his stance on gay rights, USA Today reported Wednesday.

After reading a January 17 interview in which Rippon criticized Pence, the vice president's staff asked the US Olympic Committee to set up a conversation that same day between the athlete and the politician, which Rippon ultimately declined, USA Today's Christine Brennan reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the situation. Brennan is also a CNN sports analyst.

The vice president's office did not respond to a CNN request for comment earlier Wednesday. After CNN's story published, Jarrod Agen, the vice president's communications director, disputed USA Today's reporting.

"The USA Today report is false and should be corrected. The vice president's office did not reach out to set up a conversation with Mr. Rippon. As we've said before, the vice president is supporting all the US athletes in the Olympics and is hoping they all win medals," Agen said.

Rippon's publicist Lynn Plage offered no further comment on the matter.

Last month, Rippon, who is one of two openly gay American Olympians at the Games, blasted the White House for tapping Pence to lead the official US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic opening ceremony.

"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?" Rippon said in a January 17 interview with USA Today.

Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Pence, provided the newspaper with a rebuttal to Rippon's remarks.

"This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact," Farah said in a statement. "Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the US athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang."

As governor of Indiana, Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, which allowed business to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom.

In that same January 17 interview, Rippon said he "wouldn't go out of my way" to meet with Pence during the meet-and-greet between the US Olympic athletes and the US delegation before the opening ceremony.

"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 told the newspaper.

The US men's figure skating champion, however, said, "If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I'm finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation."

"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," Rippon added.

During a conference call with reporters last Monday, Rippon insisted that he was not "trying to pick a fight" with the vice president, but instead remain focused on training, according to USA Today.

Rippon, 28, and U.S. skier Gus Kenworthy, 26, are the first two openly gay Winter Olympic athletes representing Team USA. Kenworthy also took issue with the vice president leading the U.S. delegation, calling it a "strange choice in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres Monday.

Both Rippon and Kenworthy said they would skip visiting the White House when President Donald Trump invites Team USA after the Olympics.

This story has been updated to reflect comment from Pence's office.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 115833

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook753063519
Lake7933281
DuPage7460350
Kane6083167
Will5356268
Winnebago209153
McHenry148870
St. Clair105077
Kankakee83644
Kendall75119
Rock Island63923
Champaign5957
Madison54557
Boone42416
DeKalb3704
Sangamon34328
Randolph2674
Jackson25610
McLean21613
Ogle2002
Stephenson1992
Macon19219
Peoria1918
Out of IL1831
Clinton18017
Union1519
Unassigned1490
LaSalle14113
Whiteside13412
Iroquois1314
Coles12313
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox960
Grundy952
Monroe9311
McDonough847
Lee791
Tazewell704
Cass690
Henry670
Williamson602
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin442
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion381
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Menard190
Mason180
Washington180
Woodford182
Hancock160
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 78°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 73°
Casey
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 75°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Cooling off, B-E-A-utiful weekend ahead!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events