Vice President Mike Pence to visit Thales Academy, NCBiotech and M3-Wake Research Wednesday

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence to visit Thales Academy, NCBiotech Wednesday
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Vice President Mike Pence to visit Thales Academy, NCBiotech Wednesday

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vice President Mike Pence will make a visit to Thales Academy in Apex and NCBiotech in Research Triangle Park on Wednesday.

In an email sent Monday, school officials said Pence will visit Thales Academy K-5 to see how school choice works and to advocate for its further implementation.

School officials also said students will not have homework Tuesday and will have to leave their book bags at school that night but they can bring lunch bags home and back.

The private school opted to open schools for in-person instruction July 20 along with virtual learning. Days after opening a staff member in training tested positive for COVID-19 at the school's Raleigh campus.

Pence is set to land at RDU at noon aboard Air Force 2.

He will first visit Thales Academy, a school founded by businessman and prominent GOP donor Robert Luddy. Luddy has invited and hosted other political dignitaries on campuses in years past.

RELATED: Thales Academy welcomes students back to the classroom

During his visit, Pence will stop in a classroom and take part in a small roundtable to discuss safely reopening schools. Thales Academy is offering in-person instruction, which has found support from the White House.

"If they can come and combine a trip to a school which is operated by one of the major GOP donors in the state (and) at the same time they're showing a school in operation, that's kind of a 2-for-1 deal for them," said David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College.

After his trip to Thales Academy, Pence will head to NC Biotech at Research Triangle Park. ABC11 has learned M3-Wake Research will be meeting with Pence tomorrow during his visit.

"All of us at Wake Research are excited that Vice President Pence is visiting Research Triangle tomorrow and meeting with the M3-Wake Research team.. Hopefully his visit will help bring additional national attention and recognition to all of the great work that so many medical, science, and research companies are doing here, including Wake Research, as we commence the nation's first Phase III clinical trials of a COVID vaccine. The Research Triangle is the national epicenter of medical and biotech research and we at Wake Research are honored to be a part of this community and the global effort to find a cure for COVID and put an end to this pandemic as soon as possible," said Dr. Ella Grach, CEO of M3-Wake Research.

The company is currently conducting COVID-19 clinical research trials in Raleigh and Fayetteville, as well as cities in five other states. During the visit, NC Biotech will be closed to staff and the public.


In the 2016 election, President Trump carried North Carolina by about 175,000 votes though early polls indicate a tighter race in November. With large-scale, in-person events no longer possible due to COVID-19, McLennan said these visits serve a dual-purpose.

"They're combining campaigning with some policy issues," said McLennan.

On Monday, President Trump was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of supporters and protesters.

RELATED: President Trump tours RTP FUJIFILM facility working on COVID-19 vaccine

"North Carolina is a good state for fundraising. So every time the President or the Vice President comes to the state, even though there's no major fundraising event associated with the visit to the school tomorrow or the president's visit to (FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies) yesterday, you do see a ramp up in fundraising because of that," said McLennan.

ABC11 requested interviews with Thales Academy and Mr. Luddy; both referred our requests to the White House. The Vice President's Communications team has not answered our questions about his visit as of this evening.