Members of the Vice President’s staff are pushing back against rumors that Pence’s team is working on a 2020 shadow campaign as suggested in a Saturday New York Times story.
The Times claims that newly installed Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers has “signaled” to donors a potential Pence 2020 run, a claim that Ayers immediately refuted via Twitter:
— Nick Ayers (@nick_ayers) August 5, 2017
— Nick Ayers (@nick_ayers) August 5, 2017
Pence’s Press Secretary Marc Lotter offered his own response in which he calls the Times #FakeNews and their suggestion of a “shadow campaign” nothing more than “wishful thinking,” with an added Pinnochio emoji:
— Marc Lotter (@VPPressSec) August 5, 2017
The Times points to what it calls “sheer disarray surrounding this presidency” and cites the Mueller investigation as evidence of a possible shakeup in 2020 that would not involve Trump as the presidential candidate.
The Times story uses NeverTrumpers including Rep. Charlie Dent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and longtime Trump critic Sen. Ben Sasse in its report on possible 2020 movements. It also stated that it spoke with “75 Republicans at every level of the party, elected officials, donors and strategists expressed widespread uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump would be on the ballot in 2020.”
It even cites the Senator who just brazenly killed the Senate attempt to move toward a conference with the House to repeal Obamacare, Sen. John McCain. “They see weakness in this president,” the article quotes McCain as saying, adding that politics isn’t a “nice business.”
NeverTrumpers have appeared bent on making moves to undermine the president and attempt to oust Trump from the party. But in May, even GQ belittled their efforts and noted how late night hosts like Seth Meyers have paraded individuals like Sasse as the icons of Republican resistance to Trump.
Pence Chief of Staff Ayers worked on the 2016 Vice Presidential campaign and is now working inside the administration for one of the most fervent heralds of the president and Trump administration policies. If Pence were eyeing a 2020 bid, it may be read by some as a strange move to bring Ayers on board in an official capacity as opposed having him work on the outside where he would be more free to engage in campaign related activities.
Marty Obst is also serving as a senior adviser with Pence, working inside the administration. Obst long served as Pence’s finance director and managed Pence’s Indiana gubernatorial campaign.
At a fundraiser on July 25, first daughter and senior adviser to the President Ivanka Trump introduced and spoke “glowingly” of Pence, according to the Associated Press. The Great America Committee fundraiser brought in $1 million. Ivanka Trump spoke of how the money will support congressional Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections. “Dozens of lawmakers” were in attendance.
Ayers and Obst also worked together in forming the pro-Trump group America First Policies.
In early July, the Times wrote of the plethora of wealthy donors, Republican fundraisers, and executives that the Vice President and his wife have hosted and who were supportive of the 2016 Trump-Pence ticket. The piece cited Indianapolis lawyer Robert T. Grand, a previous Pence gubernatorial fundraiser, who said Pence was the “ultimate team player and works every day to help the president succeed.”
As he travels across the country and even the globe, Pence has been one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, tirelessly championing the President and his agenda without apology.
U.S. News and World Report published a story in May that used historical references to assert that Trump will likely win a 2020 re-election bid.
Meanwhile, CNN ran a story earlier this week suggesting five potential Trump 2020 Republican challengers.
Newsweek has already jumped on the Times story with their own suggestion that Trump is weak and Pence would run in 2020.
The new Times story does note that Trump has given no indication that he will not run for a second term as president. More clearly, in mid-June Trump spoke at a GOP fundraiser held at Trump International Hotel in D.C. CNBC reported it as the first fundraiser of Trump’s 2020 re-election bid and that it brought in $10 million.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana