One is dropping in on the White House phone operators, addressing troops at bases across the country, paying a visit to national guardsmen in place for the inauguration and speaking by phone with his successor.
The other is holed up inside, silenced on social media, resisting entreaties to deliver a farewell address and refusing to speak to the man who beat him.
The respective ways Vice President Mike Pence and his boss, President Donald Trump, are concluding their terms in the White House amount to a study in contrasts.
One way is decidedly more presidential than the other.
After an extended period of estrangement after Trump called Pence a “p*ssy” and lambasted him in front of a crowd that later stormed the US Capitol to hunt him, Trump and Pence are now speaking.
But many in Pence’s orbit remain furious at how Trump behaved the day of the insurrection attempt, which brought rioters within seconds of encountering Pence and members of his family in the hallways outside the Senate chamber. Trump did not call to check on Pence’s safety during the ordeal.
And the two men, while back on speaking terms, are now following entirely divergent paths in the twilight of their administration.
On Thursday, Pence spoke with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for the first time, the highest-level contact to date between the outgoing and incoming administrations. Their conversation was described as cordial, with Pence offering his congratulations and assistance, according to a person familiar with the matter. The New York Times first reported the conversation.
Trump has refused all courtesies to Biden, to whom he has not technically conceded in a formal way. He resisted inviting Biden to the White House for a traditional post-election meeting, has not phoned him and is not expected to welcome him to the White House on Inauguration Day. He maintains privately that he beat Biden, according to people who have discussed the matter with him.
Instead of welcoming Biden to the White House and sharing a car to the swearing-in ceremony, Trump is planning to depart the White House on the morning of January 20, participate in a send-off at Joint Base Andrews and fly to Palm Beach aboard Air Force One, all before Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. Even the use of Blair House, the presidential guest quarters, on Inauguration Eve was left to the State Department to formally offer to the Bidens.
Pence, meanwhile, plans to attend the inauguration.
In recent days, Pence has emerged as a more visible figure than the President, who has appeared only in recorded videos filmed by White House staff. While many of Trump’s advisers have encouraged him to deliver a farewell address, either live or recorded, has has seemed disinterested and non-committal. He’s voiced extreme self-pity, according to people familiar with the conversations, and has become surly because more Republicans aren’t defending him.
Pence, who has been among the advisers encouraging the President to more forcefully condemn last week’s riots, has adopted a more cheerful outlook.
During an afternoon outing on Thursday, he dropped into the pool of White House phone operators working in the New Executive Office Building across the street from the White House, presenting them with challenge coins and a framed letter of appreciation.
From there he traveled to the headquarters of Federal Emergency Management Agency for a briefing on inauguration security, which Trump was also briefed on this week at the White House but which he hasn’t addressed at length.
“We all lived through that day of January the 6th and as the President made clear yesterday, we are committed to an orderly transition and to a safe Inauguration,” he said, seated at the head of a table flanked by an American flag. “The American people deserve nothing less.”
Before he returned to the White House, Pence stopped to greet troops posted outside the Capitol, where a week earlier he had been hunkered in a secure location while would-be insurrectionists stormed the building.
“God bless you,” he told the cordon. “It’s been my great honor to serve as your vice president.”
Pence is using Air Force Two amply in his final days. He flew to West Virginia on Friday for a memorial service for the late test pilot Chuck Yeager, telling the gathering he extended deep sympathies “on behalf of the President of the United States.”
He will travel to two military installations over the weekend: Naval Air Station Lemoore, in California, on Saturday for remarks on the Trump administration’s foreign policy; and Fort Drum, in New York, on Sunday for remarks to 10th Mountain Division soldiers recently returned from Afghanistan.
The extent of Trump’s messaging on his foreign policy legacy came in the form of an emailed statement on Thursday declaring: “United States military troops in Afghanistan are at a 19-year low. Likewise, Iraq and Syria are also at the lowest point in many years. I will always be committed to stopping the endless wars. It has been a great honor to rebuild our military and support our brave men and women in uniform. $2.5 trillion invested, including in beautiful new equipment – all made in the U.S.A.”
The statement appeared to be a substitute for what would otherwise have been a tweet, if Trump had not been permanently banned from Twitter.