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Mike Pence 2020 presidential bid? Rumours are ‘disgraceful and offensive’, VP says

August 7, 2017 2:15 AM
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Mike Pence 2020 presidential bid? Rumours are ‘disgraceful and offensive’, VP says

Pence denounces suggestion he's eyeing 2020 presidential bid0:59

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday denounced as false a New York Times article suggesting he is eyeing a 2020 run for president, calling it "disgraceful and offensive." Linda So reports.

AMERICAN Vice President Mike Pence has furiously denied claims he is positioning himself to dislodge Donald Trump amid reports of a rift in the White House.

Mr Pence said a New York Timesarticle suggesting he and other top Republicans were running shadow campaigns to defeat Donald Trump in the next election was ridiculous.

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

“The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration.”

He also used the statement to take a swipe at the “fake media” and declared his loyalty to Mr Trump, insisting he will work to see that the president gets re-elected in 2020.

“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.”

However, Dougal Robinson, research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, cast doubt on Mr Pence’s denial.

Mr Robinson told that while the vice president has been publicly supporting Mr Trump, it appeared to be a different case behind closed doors.

“Publicly, Vice President Pence has been forthright in pledging his allegiance to President Trump,” Mr Robinson said.

“Privately, Pence is courting billionaire Republican donors and has established his own political fundraising committee, the Great America Committee.”

Mr Robinson said the chances of Mr Pence running against Mr Trump in the 2020 primaries were close to zero as sitting presidents were rarely challenged for the nomination from within their own party, much less by the vice president.

However, Mr Robinson explained: “Mr Pence is laying the groundwork for a potential presidential run in 2020, positioning himself to be the Republican Party’s standard bearer for 2020 in a number of implausible but not impossible scenarios in which President Trump does not stand for re-election.

“These include the death of President Trump, his resignation, impeachment and removal from office, or simply a decision not to seek a second term.

“Each scenario is highly unlikely, but the ongoing Russia investigations and Mr Trump’s falling approval ratings have spurred Republicans including Mr Pence, and Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse, to prepare for a possible presidential bid.”

Lowy Institute non-resident fellow Professor James Curran said he fully expected the vice president to deny such a story and do otherwise risked incurring Mr Trump’s wrath.

Prof Curran, an associate Professor at the Department of History at the University of Sydney, said the story itself is indicative of just how much faith and confidence in the president is draining away in Republican ranks — at the most senior levels.

“Congressional Republicans have been rattled for some time, and look anxiously at their prospects for next year’s mid-terms,” he said.

“But this story shows that the nervousness reaches all the way into the White House. Clearly, the thinking among the GOP is already about life post-Trump.”

However Prof Curran said the idea that America’s deep-seated problems will evaporate with Mr Trump’s departure was delusional.

“America’s problems — economic, social and those it encounters abroad — are systemic rather than transitory,” he said.

The Times’ report detailed the efforts of several Republicans looking ahead to 2020, calling it a “shadow campaign”.

It noted Mr Pence’s political schedule and active fundraising, however it also said unnamed advisers have signalled that he would only run if Mr Trump doesn’t.

“Pence’s schedule is so full of political events that Republicans joke he is acting more like a second-term vice president hoping to clear the field than a No. 2 sworn in a little over six months ago,” the story reads.

It also implied that Mr Pence, along with other Republicans including Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse as well as Ohio Governor John Kasich, are taking actions which indicate a preliminary 2020 effort.

Mr Kasich, who lost to Mr Trump in the race for the Republican presidential nomination last year, has since been a vocal critic of the president.

The Times reported Mr Pence was the “pacesetter” among a group of Republican “political opportunists” preparing to move in if Trump draws blame for the party suffering serious losses in next year’s midterm elections.

According to AFP, it is extremely rare for politicians of a president’s party — let alone his own vice president — to begin preparing just six months into his first term for the possibility he will not run for a second.

While Mr Trump has not suggested he won’t seek a second term, his first six months in office have been turbulent, marked by staff infighting, legislative struggles and a series of investigations.

A Gallup poll conducted at the six-month mark of all presidents since Harry S.Truman has found Mr Trump has just a 36 per cent approval rating, down six points on a similar poll conducted at his first 100 days.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also dismissed the report and said Mr Pence is readying to run in 2020 “for re-election as vice president.”

“Vice President Pence is a very loyal, very dutiful, but also incredibly effective vice president, and active vice president, with this president,” Ms Conway told ABC’s This Week.

New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in an emailed statement: “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself.”


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