MACKINAC ISLAND — Vice President Mike Pence arrived at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in an eight-vehicle motorcade Saturday, prompting cries of "sacrilege" on social media.
Cars are generally banned on the island, and that century-old ban is integral to its charm.
When President Gerald Ford visited the island in 1975 — the only sitting president to make such a visit — he and first lady Betty Ford traveled by horse-drawn carriage.
Pence, who spoke at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, is the first sitting vice president to visit the island. He traveled to and from the airport with a cluster of monster SUVs shipped to the island Friday night.
It was the first-ever motorcade on Mackinac .
To some, the Pence motorcade on the bucolic island is the latest outrage of the Donald Trump presidency.
To others, it's mostly a sign of how much has changed since 1975.
Ron Fournier, a Detroit native who covered Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama during a journalism career that included stints as Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press and editor-in-chief of the National Journal, said the motorcade was "obscene."
"It's both the existence and size," said Fournier, now president of the Michigan public relations firm Truscott Rossman. "No security expert would claim it's necessary."
For Phil Anderson of Winona, Minn., who was cycling on the island Saturday, it was no big deal.
"It's not an issue at all," Anderson said. "The wonderful president and the wonderful vice president have to get out and meet people and they can't walk from the airport." Anderson said "a lot of things have changed" since the Ford visit, and "time is money."
Among the things that have changed since Ford's visit are the attempt to assassinate him by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme later that year, the 1981 attempt by John Hinckley Jr. to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, and the 9-11 terror attacks.
"It's the nature of the security these days," said state Sen. Wayne Schmidt, whose district includes Mackinac Island and who said he stood by the road to wait for the motorcade mostly because a vehicle on the island is such a rare site.
"Any time we can get a high-ranking official, of any political stripe, up here, I welcome him," Schmidt said.
But the views on social media were weighted heavily against Pence, with "snowflake" being among the kinder labels used by his critics. Many said that if he could not go to Mackinac without a motorcade, he should have stayed. home.
Even former Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, the host of the syndicated TV program Full Court Press, weighed in.
A motorcade on Mackinac Island????????!!!!!! How can that be? Google Mackinac Island... https://t.co/ix9v0BYU4K— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) September 21, 2019
"A motorcade on Mackinac Island????????!!!!!!" she tweeted. "How can that be? Google Mackinac Island..."
Pence flew to Michigan Saturday morning before taking a helicopter to the small Mackinac Island airport. He then traveled by motorcade to and from the hotel.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Pence arrives on Mackinac with eight-vehicle motorcade