USA Today: Gay Olympic athlete turns down Pence meeting US Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence after criticizing him for his stance on gay rights, USA Today reported Wednesday. After reading a January 17 interview in which Rippon criticized Pence, the vice presidents staff asked the US Olympic Committee to set up a conversation that same day between the athlete and the politician, which Rippon ultimately declined, USA Todays Christine Brennan reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the situation. Brennan is also a CNN sports analyst. In a post on his official Twitter account Thursday, Pence told Rippon the US delegation was for you, and warned him not to let the fake news distract him. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get em! he told the athlete. The vice presidents office did not respond to a CNN request for comment earlier Wednesday. After CNNs story published, Jarrod Agen, the vice presidents communications director, disputed USA Todays reporting. The USA Today report is false and should be corrected. The vice presidents office did not reach out to set up a conversation with Mr Rippon. As weve said before, the vice president is supporting all the US athletes in the Olympics and is hoping they all win medals, Agen said. Rippons publicist Lynn Plage offered no further comment on the matter. Last month, Rippon, who is one of two openly gay American Olympians at the Games, blasted the White House for tapping Pence to lead the official US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic opening ceremony. You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? Rippon said in a January 17 interview with USA Today.   Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Pence, provided the newspaper with a rebuttal to Rippons remarks. This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact, Farah said in a statement. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the US athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang. As governor of Indiana, Pence signed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015, which allowed business to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of religious freedom. In that same January 17 interview, Rippon said he wouldnt go out of my way to meet with Pence during the meet-and-greet between the US Olympic athletes and the US delegation before the opening ceremony. If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they arent a friend of a gay person but that they think that theyre sick, Rippon told the newspaper. The US mens figure skating champion, however, said, If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after Im finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation. He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. But I dont think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesnt stand for anything that I really believe in, Rippon added. During a conference call with reporters last Monday, Rippon insisted that he was not trying to pick a fight with the vice president, but instead remain focused on training, according to USA Today. Rippon, 28, and U.S. skier Gus Kenworthy, 26, are the first two openly gay Winter Olympic athletes representing Team USA. Kenworthy also took issue with the vice president leading the U.S. delegation, calling it a strange choice in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres Monday. Both Rippon and Kenworthy said they would skip visiting the White House when President Donald Trump invites Team USA after the Olympics.

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