Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday admonished Boston Marathoners and students at Wellesley College to "run from temptation" during this year's race, to be held Monday, April 17.
Pence was alluding to the Wellesley Scream Tunnel, a longstanding tradition in which throngs of students at the all-women's school turn out to cheer marathoners—and, famously, to give and receive kisses. The college is situated around mile 12 of the marathon course, and the roar of the crowd there can be heard long before that.
Pence's remarks come shortly after newly resurfaced reports that the former Indiana governor, a devout Christian, follows the "Billy Graham Rule"—i.e., he "never dines with women alone, nor does he attend functions without his wife if alcohol is being served."
He made his Wellesley comments during a marathon session with reporters in a White House press briefing.
"Anyone looking for signs of our nation's moral decay can find them all too easily at Wellesley College on Boston Marathon day," Pence said. "And I'm talking here about actual, physical signs—signs that say things like 'KISS ME, I'M AN ENGINEER' and 'KISS ME, I LIKE SCHWEDDY BALLZ.'"
"I am fine, by the way, with ladies being engineers," he was quick to add. "It's the solicitation of a kiss, from a total stranger, that I am not okay with. Neither would Jesus be. Marathon runners, I urge you to resist the siren song of these young, lithesome, smooth-skinned..."
Pence trailed off, seemingly losing his train of thought, before snapping back to attention.
"Women! To the women of Wellesley I would just say that it is entirely possible to show your support of these athletes without resorting to such licentious, lascivious behavior."
"To be blunt," he said, "this so-called tradition strikes me as wicked."
Asked how he felt about the uniforms worn by the elite women during the race, the vice president paused and grew visibly uncomfortable. Upon hearing the phrase "butt huggers," he was whisked from the room by aides.
In a statement released to reporters later, a spokesman explained that Pence had suddenly remembered a prior commitment and also that he wanted the Boston Athletic Association to know that he is "not entirely comfortable with that unicorn and his big horn, either."