What do you say when you have the opportunity to meet the second most powerful man in the world and you have less than a minute?
A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to consider and answer that most important question on extremely short notice.
I had been invited to drive one of the vehicles in Vice President Mike Pence’s motorcade during his visit to Nashville. I previously drove in President George W. Bush’s motorcade in 2008 when he came to Tennessee to tour the tornado damage. On that day we had no access to the President in the way of a meet-and-greet or photo op. He flew in to Lafayette on Marine One and flew right back out after the hour-long tour.
Our time with the Vice President was much different. We were with him from noon until 8 p.m. We made three stops that day after Air Force Two landed at the Berry Field Air National Guard base by the Nashville Airport. We first visited the Tyson Chicken plant in Springfield. Then we headed to the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s headquarters in Hendersonville where the Vice President made an appearance on Mike Huckabee’s television show. We finished the day at Willis Johnson’s beautiful farm on Moran Road (where Alan Jackson used to live) for a major fundraising event.
It was in Hendersonville, backstage at Governor Huckabee’s show, that I was invited to stand behind the curtain in a line of VIPs who all had an opportunity to greet Vice President Pence and get a photo taken with him. Senator Marsha Blackburn, Congressman Mark Green and Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers were among those ahead of me in line.
“Brent High,” announced one of the White House staffers as I made my way over to the Vice President.
“Thanks for helping out today,” said the Vice President as he reached out to shake my hand and we turned towards the camera. He knew I was a volunteer thanks to the pin on my lapel that had been provided by the Secret Service (I know. Cool, right?).
“Absolutely my pleasure,” I said.
“You know, in six years I’m going to be working in the front office of a new Major League Baseball team in Nashville and you’re going to be President,” I continued. “I’d like to go ahead and invite you to throw out the first pitch at our first game in the new stadium.”
At that point, the Vice President rotated his hand in mind, wrapping his thumb around my thumb for a kind of bro handshake. His smile broadened from ear to ear.
“You’ve got a deal!” said the Vice President.
May it be so….
If not, maybe it’s not too early to start thinking about a Pence-High ticket in 2024 and 2028.
PHOTO CREDIT: Official White House Photo – D. Myles Cullen