Pence re­jects re­port on 2020 am­bi­tions

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - PETER BAKER In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was contributed by Laura King of Tri­bune News Ser­vice.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence on Sun­day de­clared his loy­alty to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and de­nounced a New York Times ar­ti­cle sug­gest­ing that he was po­si­tion­ing him­self to run for pres­i­dent in 2020 if Trump does not seek a sec­ond term.

“Today’s ar­ti­cle in The New York Times is dis­grace­ful and of­fen­sive to me, my fam­ily and our en­tire team,” the vice pres­i­dent said in a state­ment.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple know that I could not be more hon­ored to be work­ing side by side with a pres­i­dent who is mak­ing Amer­ica great again,” Pence said, in­vok­ing Trump’s 2016 cam­paign slo­gan.

He added: “The al­le­ga­tions in this ar­ti­cle are cat­e­gor­i­cally false and rep­re­sent just the lat­est at­tempt by the me­dia to di­vide this ad­min­is­tra­tion. … What­ever fake news may come our way, my en­tire team will con­tinue to fo­cus all our ef­forts to ad­vance the pres­i­dent’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020. Any sug­ges­tion oth­er­wise is both laugh­able and ab­surd.”

Danielle Rhoades Ha, a Times spokesman, said in re­sponse: “We are con­fi­dent in the ac­cu­racy of our re­port­ing and will let the story speak for it­self.”

The ar­ti­cle re­ported that a num­ber of Repub­li­cans ap­peared to be po­si­tion­ing them­selves to run in 2020 as the pres­i­dent en­dures low ap­proval rat­ings and faces mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions into whether his as­so­ciates had con­tacts with Rus­sia dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign. While some Repub­li­cans might take on the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent of their own party, the ar­ti­cle re­ported that mul­ti­ple ad­vis­ers to Pence had in­ti­mated to party donors that he would plan to run if Trump did not seek re-elec­tion.

In one June meet­ing, an aide to the vice pres­i­dent, Marty Obst, said Pence’s team wanted to be pre­pared to run in case there was an open­ing in 2020, ac­cord­ing to a Repub­li­can briefed on the meet­ing. Nick Ay­ers, the vice pres­i­dent’s new chief of staff, has sig­naled to ma­jor Repub­li­can donors that Pence wants to be ready, the ar­ti­cle re­ported.

The ar­ti­cle quoted Obst deny­ing that he and Ay­ers had made any pri­vate in­sin­u­a­tions. He also called sug­ges­tions that the vice pres­i­dent was po­si­tion­ing him­self for 2020 “be­yond ridicu­lous.”

Pence has set up a po­lit­i­cal fundrais­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion, Great Amer­ica Com­mit­tee, and has hosted key fig­ures at the vice pres­i­dent’s man­sion, in­clud­ing Tony Perkins of the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Charles and David Koch, the bil­lion­aire con­ser­va­tive fi­nanciers. Last month, the vice pres­i­dent hosted Kelly and Joe Craft, coal barons from Ken­tucky.

A top White House ad­viser said Sun­day that there would be no rea­son for the vice pres­i­dent to pre­pare his own White House bid be­cause Trump plans to run.

“The pres­i­dent says pri­vately and publicly of­ten, Ge­orge, that he’ll be there for 7½ more years, so he plans on be­ing a two-term pres­i­dent,” Kellyanne Con­way, the pres­i­dent’s coun­selor, told Ge­orge Stephanopou­los on ABC’s This Week. “It is ab­so­lutely true that the vice pres­i­dent is get­ting ready for 2020, for re-elec­tion as vice pres­i­dent.”

Stephanopou­los asked whether there was any con­cern that Pence was run­ning a shadow cam­paign. “Zero con­cern,” Con­way said. “That is com­plete fic­tion. That is com­plete fab­ri­ca­tion. And I know that his ad­vis­ers who had com­ments at­trib­uted to them have pushed back strongly, as has the vice pres­i­dent. And as am I right now un­equiv­o­cally.”

She added: “Vice Pres­i­dent Pence is a very loyal, very du­ti­ful, but also in­cred­i­bly ef­fec­tive vice pres­i­dent, and ac­tive vice pres­i­dent, with this pres­i­dent.”

Other Repub­li­cans who have been mak­ing trips to key states or in­tro­duc­ing them­selves to donors, rais­ing spec­u­la­tion about their plans, in­clude Gov. John Ka­sich of Ohio and Sens. Tom Cot­ton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Ne­braska.

AP/ALEX BRAN­DON

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence de­nied re­ports Sun­day that he plans to run for pres­i­dent if Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump opts not to seek a sec­ond term.

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