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Mayor Of Denver Travels For Thanksgiving In Violation Of His Own Recommendations

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Do as I say, not as I do is never a good look, especially for politicians. And that's even more true during a pandemic. Elected officials tell us to avoid indoor gatherings with big groups, to postpone big celebrations, to cancel non-essential travel. And yet, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently attended a birthday party indoors at a fancy restaurant, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hosted his daughter's wedding with some 70 guests back in the spring, and now the mayor of Denver is in trouble for a similar reason. Yesterday, after telling his city to stay put for the holiday, Mayor Michael Hancock hopped onto a plane to celebrate with his own family.

Ana Campbell of Colorado Public Radio and Denverite.com joins us from Denver to talk about the incident and the backlash. Hi there.

ANA CAMPBELL, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Walk us through the story of Mayor Michael Hancock and his Thanksgiving plans.

CAMPBELL: Yeah. So, you know, the mayor has really been emphasizing the need to avoid family gatherings and getting together, really, with anyone outside of your house for Thanksgiving. He said repeatedly that he's avoiding his, like, traditional big family gathering this year. So then on Wednesday, it turns out that he boarded a flight for Houston. A spokesperson for his office later told us that he was visiting his wife and daughter, who had recently moved to Mississippi for the holiday. About 30 minutes before he boarded, his Twitter account sent out a tweet basically advising to stay at home as much as you can, host virtual gatherings instead of in-person ones and avoiding travel as much as you can.

SHAPIRO: And what has the reaction been to that where you are in Denver?

CAMPBELL: Yeah, it's been pretty swift and angry. Lawmakers here - you know, Democrats, Republicans were pretty quick to condemn what he did. Lauren Boebert, our newly elected Republican congresswoman, said, and I'll read you a quote, "when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock goes against his own orders, Denver residents need to stop taking orders from him." You know, a restaurant in Denver wrote on its marquee, enjoy your trip, Mayor Hancock. So yeah, it's been pretty intense.

SHAPIRO: And to put this into context for us - I know Colorado has seen a COVID spike, like so many other states - how bad is it right now?

CAMPBELL: It's pretty bad. We are by far in the worst of the pandemic. One in 41 Coloradans is now contagious with COVID-19 right now. In some cities, it's as bad as 1 in 29. Our own governor is actually quarantining after he came into contact with someone who had COVID-19. Restaurants in Denver are closed for in-person dining. It's pretty bleak. And, you know, couple that with winter, and it's just a really tough time.

SHAPIRO: How is the mayor explaining this? I gather he apologized. What's he saying?

CAMPBELL: You know, he apologized, sort of. I'll read you part of what he said. Quote, "I apologize to the residents of Denver who see my decision as conflicting with the guidance to stay at home for all but essential travel. I made my decision as a husband and a father." He sent this apology out on social media, and it's gotten thousands of responses. Some people said, you know, hey, we get it, but don't do it again. The vast majority were clearly pretty upset with him. People were sharing stories about how they had opted out of family gatherings because they took his advice. Some people have even gone as far as calling on him to resign.

SHAPIRO: That's Ana Campbell of Colorado Public Radio and Denverite.com. Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Ari. Happy Thanksgiving. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.