Last night, the New York Times ran an article (see: Republican Shadow Campaign for 2020 Takes Shape as Trump Doubts Grow) suggesting, among other things, that Mike Pence was quietly preparing for a Presidential run in 2020 on the chance that Mueller, the mainstream media and the intelligence community is ultimately successful in taking down Trump. They even suggested that members of Pence's team have openly admitted as much to potential donors at fundraising events. Here are a couple of the key excerpts:
Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse have already been to Iowa this year, Gov. John Kasich is eyeing a return visit to New Hampshire, and Mike Pence’s schedule is so full of political events that Republicans joke that 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.
Mr. Pence has been the pacesetter. Though it is customary for vice presidents to keep a full political calendar, he has gone a step further, creating an independent power base, cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent and promoting himself as the main conduit between the Republican donor class and the administration.
The vice president created his own political fund-raising committee, Great America Committee, shrugging off warnings from some high-profile Republicans that it would create speculation about his intentions. The group, set up with help from Jack Oliver, a former fund-raiser for George W. Bush, has overshadowed Mr. Trump’s own primary outside political group, America First Action, even raising more in disclosed donations.
Mr. Pence’s aides, however, have been less restrained in private, according to two people briefed on the conversations. In a June meeting with Al Hubbard, an Indiana Republican who was a top economic official in Mr. Bush’s White House, an aide to the vice president, Marty Obst, said that they wanted to be prepared to run in case there was an opening in 2020 and that Mr. Pence would need Mr. Hubbard’s help, according to a Republican briefed on the meeting. Reached on the phone, Mr. Hubbard declined to comment.
Mr. Ayers has signaled to multiple major Republican donors that Mr. Pence wants to be ready.
This morning, Mike Pence has issued the following official statement blasting the New York Times article as just more "fake news" while saying that any suggestion he may be looking to undermine Trump's presidency was simply "laughable and absurd."
"Today's article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are catergorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration."
"Thanks to the President's leadership, we are rebuilding the military, ISIS is on the run, and we've seen more than 1 million jobs created while the stock market hits all time highs."
"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."
"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."
Not surprisingly, reporters have already taken Pence's statement as a sign of further discord in the White House and evidence of a growing divide between Trump and Pence...
By transmitting this thru official White House channels, Team Pence sends the message Trump wasn't thrilled reading the Times today > pic.twitter.com/ksRVSzTbI4— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) August 6, 2017
...of course, if we were the cynical types, we might suggest that was the goal of the article all along.