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Vice President Pence extends his Sanibel Island trip for church service

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to leave Southwest Florida on Sunday after a few days on Sanibel Island. His visit comes as an order by President Donald Trump on Thursday led to the death of the second-ranking Iranian leader.

Pence and his security detail were seen at Sanibel Community Church, coming in for the 11 a.m. service. Pence is a regular at the church and congregants are not shocked to see him.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Carolyn David, who lives in Sanibel. “We’re so happy to have him and be able to pray for him and he’s been coming for a long time before we knew who he was. I think people are kind of excited that they might get to shake his hand or see him.”

Now, the vice-president’s travel on the island means you could see delays in both driving and flights. The temporary flight restrictions now stretch until 2:30 p.m., which is a couple of hours later than initially planned. Sanibel is usually packed on the weekends during the season. Add roadblocks and more than a dozen emergency vehicles that travel wherever he goes, and you have a mess.

Earlier in the week, Sanibel issued a heavy traffic advisory. Pence is known to stop at places, like Cheeburger Cheeburger, which is a 1950s-style burger restaurant chain that owes its origins to Sanibel, along with the Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market and Sanibel’s Best Homemade Ice Cream. However, there were no sightings on this visit.

“It would be wonderful if he happens to come by and he’s a great supporter,” said Laurie Verme, the owner of Sanibel’s Best Homemade Ice Cream. “To Vice President Pence, come on down.”

The last visit Pence made to Sanibel was in October. Before that, it was during Easter. While Pence enjoys himself on his visits to Sanibel, it has not been all vacation on this trip. The vice-president spoke out in support of the airstrike on Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, who the Trump administration eliminated on Thursday evening.

The United States has officially classified the military general as a terrorist. Several experts have said Soleimani’s death may make it more dangerous to American citizens and soldiers. The escalating tensions, which are uniting enemies of the U.S., could make allies in the Middle East distance themselves. For instance, the Iraqi Parliament voted for a proposal on Sunday to expel American forces.

However, to justify the airstrikes, President Trump said the general was planning imminent attacks on Americans. On Twitter, Pence has called it decisive action against an evil man, who is already responsible for killing thousands of Americans. Porter Goss, a former CIA director who lives on Sanibel, has echoed the remarks by Pence and Trump.

“It was right up there with getting Saddam Hussein out of the way,” Goss said. “Getting some of the other big terrorists out of the way and off the playing field.”

Reporter:Anika Henanger
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