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Mike Pence unexpectedly cancels N.H. event

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 7/2/2019
Vice President Mike Pence. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Vice President Mike Pence.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Vice President Mike Pence unexpectedly canceled a Tuesday trip to New Hampshire, where he was scheduled to speak at an addiction treatment center.

“Something came up that required the @VP to remain in Washington, DC. It’s no cause for alarm. He looks forward to rescheduling the trip to New Hampshire very soon,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, tweeted around noon, about 30 minutes after Pence was scheduled to arrive at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

One senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation, said the issue was not related to national security. Another senior administration official said it was not related to any kind of health issue affecting Pence or President Trump.

Soon after boarding a plane at Joint Base Andrews, just outside Washington, Pence got back off and returned to the White House, said his chief of staff, Marc Short, who was with the vice president.

“The plane never took off,” Short said. “It was never diverted. It was never turned back around.” Short said Trump and Pence “briefly” discussed the issue that prompted the change of plans.

Pence was scheduled to participate in a discussion at Granite Recovery Centers in Salem. Following the discussion, Pence was scheduled to speak about the “opioid crisis and illegal drug flow.”

“We were so honored to host Vice President Pence to discuss the opioid epidemic, treatment, and recovery but unfortunately the event was canceled,” Eric Spofford, chief executive of the Granite Recovery Centers, said in an e-mail.

“This issue is so important and we all need to work together toward solutions. We look forward to working with the VP in the future, as well as all levels of government, as we continue to fight this epidemic,” he said.

Governor Chris Sununu was scheduled to greet Pence at the airport and attend the vice president’s speech in Salem.

“The Governor was not given a specific reason for the change of plans, and was notified right around the same time as the public,” Sununu’s spokesman, Benjamin Vihstadt, wrote in an e-mail. “Governor Sununu is looking forward to welcoming the Vice President to New Hampshire at a later date.”

Jeff Chasen, 34, director of community outreach at the Brooke Recovery Center in Abington, Mass., said even though Pence could not make his trip to New Hampshire, the event even being scheduled and extensively planned is a “huge win” for recovery centers and the larger movement in New England to advocate for stronger treatment. “It’s unfortunate that he was unable to show up. But I’m sure there was good reason,” he said. “And we look forward to having him back.”

Robert Clemente, 33, an alumnus of the Granite Recovery Center, said having Pence plan a visit puts a “spotlight” on the recovery community.

“Someone that’s in recovery myself, and works with a lot of alcoholics, addicts, there really needs to be a change, and I think that it kind of highlights that having the vice president come down here would be a huge opportunity to put the recovery community in the spotlight,” Clemente said.

Aidan Ryan can be reached at aidan.ryan@globe.com. Martin Finucane and Jessica Rinaldi of the Globe staff contributed to this story.

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