“In its 44-year history,” WMAR notes, the March for Life “has never had a president or vice president speak at its event.” That changes today, as Vice President Mike Pence will take the podium to signal the support of the Trump administration for the pro-life cause. Nor will Pence be the only high-profile Trump administration official on hand for the protest against Roe v Wade:
The Washington Post notes the historic nature of Pence’s presence, while assigning its source to pro-life organizers:
Vice President Pence will join Friday’s March for Life, a move from the White House considered historic by march organizers. President Ronald Reagan made a video for the march in 1988 and President George W. Bush called in to the march in 2008, but no president or vice president has spoken at the march before, according to a march spokeswoman. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor, will also speak at the march.
March organizers say they expect tens of thousands of people to march at the event that annually draws activists from across the country. This year, organizers believe they will see a surge of energy with the ascension of a president who is expected to move forward on antiabortion policies, including defunding Planned Parenthood and appointing an antiabortion Supreme Court justice.
Well, having a vice-president speak at the rally to help boost the pro-life cause is objectively historic, as WMAR treated it. Even pro-life administrations never offered that much official support to the event itself, although organizer certainly appreciated the attention that Reagan and Bush 43 provided for it. In retrospect, it seems surprising that neither Reagan or either of the Bushes had participated to this extent in the past; Dan Quayle would have been a natural choice for a personal appearance.
Don’t think for a moment that organizers aren’t cognizant of the political message that the presence of Pence and Conway sends:
The warm nod from the White House is especially significant to activists who have participated in the March for Life for decades but never got to see a vice president or president speak in person.
Chuck Donovan, who has attended the march for about 30 years, recalls one year when President Ronald Reagan called into the rally while standing on the Ellipse outside the White House. It was Reagan’s compromise for march organizers, who had intensively lobbied him to attend in-person despite security concerns.
“To my knowledge, that is as close to the march as any president has ever come,” said Donovan, who now heads the research arm for the Susan B. Anthony List and has worked in the anti-abortion movement for decades.
“Vice President Pence will be a whole lot closer,” Donovan said.
The message of official support got even stronger when Donald Trump challenged ABC’s David Muir on media coverage of the event. Muir tried pinning down Trump on acknowledging the size of the Women’s March, but when Trump turned the tables on Muir regarding ABC’s intent to cover the March for Life, suddenly Muir didn’t want to discuss crowd sizes:
And don’t think that challenge had no impact. The Washington Post article concludes:
“You’re going to have a lot of people coming on Friday,” Trump said. “And I will say this, and I didn’t realize this. But I was told you will have a very large crowd of people. I don’t know as large or larger. Some people said it will be larger, pro-life people, and they say the press doesn’t cover them.”
The Washington Post has covered the March for Life every year for the past decade, according to archives.
That’s because it happens in the Post’s own backyard. Will the rest of the media that provided wall-to-wall coverage of Madonna’s vulgarity and Ashley Judd’s oddball poetry give even a tenth of that attention to today’s March for Life? The gauntlet has been laid down.