Ohio Valley No Stranger to Vice-Presidential Visits

Vice President Mike Pence, left, greets Dolph Santorine, of Wheeling, during a 2010 stop in Wheeling to support the candidacy of U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. File Photo by Joselyn King

WHEELING — Vice President Mike Pence’s stop in Wheeling this week won’t be his first time in the Friendly City, but it will mark the third visit to the Ohio Valley by a sitting vice president since 2004.

And not everybody will be happy the current vice president is in town.

Pence is scheduled to be in Wheeling for a public town hall meeting Thursday organized by America First Policies.

It will take place in the Glessner Auditorium at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge. Doors open at 12:30 p.m., and the event is to start at 2:30 p.m.

Protesters are expected to make their presence known, according to Rosemary Ketchum, organizer for MOVE — Marchers Ohio Valley Empowered.

“We do believe some folks will be assembling,” she said. “We’re not quite sure of the details yet.”

Ketchum said members of MOVE have serious concerns about the policies of the Trump Administration.

“The general consensus of our members is that the Trump Administration has consistently mishandled critical U.S. foreign and domestic policy as a result of its inept leadership — and more dangerously — its possible and likely involvement with foreign powers to gain influence and mislead the American people,” she said. “This issue transcends partisan politics and becomes about protecting our country and our democracy.

“We believe that anyone who is concerned with the direction of this country should peacefully assemble for the vice president’s visit,” said Ketchum.

The last visit by a vice president to the Ohio Valley took place in May 2012, when former Vice President Joe Biden made a campaign stop in Martins Ferry on behalf of President Barack Obama.

Eight years before that in 2004, former Vice President Dick Cheney came to the Ohio Valley on a tour that ended with him addressing a gymnasium packed with President George W. Bush supporters at Wheeling Park High School.

Pence first came to Wheeling in September 2010 while representing his home state of Indiana in the U.S. House, and serving as chairman of the House Republican Conference. He attended the opening of U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley’s campaign office in Elm Grove.

Dolph Santorine, of Wheeling, who led Trump’s 2016 campaign in Ohio County, was among those attending the gathering. He also remembers Pence coming back to Wheeling in more recent years for a fundraiser sponsored by Robert E. Murray, CEO and president of Murray Energy.

“It’s an amazing honor for any community to have the vice president visit with us,” Santorine said. “Considering what’s going on with the Senate race, there’s an extremely important balance of power up for grabs in 2018.”

He said he had a good impression of Pence during his past meetings with him.

“I’ve had very limited time to be around the vice president, but I did get a sense that he is a man of integrity and morals,” he said.

Those interested in attending the public town hall should register by visiting the taxcutsforamerica.org website, and clicking on the box for the Wheeling event. There is no cost to attend the town hall.

Pence is also slated to speak later in the day in Wheeling at a private fundraiser for West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s U.S. Senate campaign. Details for the private event, also sponsored by Murray, have yet to be released.