Pence disputes NYT report he is setting up 'shadow campaign' for president in 2020

Michael Pence with President Trump
Pence listens as President Trump speaks to members of the media at the White House last month. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence is pushing back against a front-page New York Times report that suggests he has already launched a “shadow campaign” for president in 2020.

“Today’s article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team,” Pence said in a statement released by the White House on Sunday. “The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration.”

The paper is standing by its story.

“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself,” Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement to Yahoo News.

According to the report, Republicans who are increasingly weary of the “sheer disarray” surrounding President Trump — including special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — have begun “contingency planning” amid doubts about whether Trump will even seek a second term.

And Pence, according to the Times, is among them:

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.

Pence refuted those assertions in his statement Sunday.

“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,” he said. “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 reelected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s special counselor, also disputed the Times report in an appearance on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos.

“The president says privately and publicly often, George, that he’ll be there for seven-and-a half-more years,” Conway said. “So he plans on being a two-term president.”

“It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020 — for reelection as vice president,” she continued.

“So no concern he’s setting up a shadow campaign?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Zero concern. That is complete fiction. That is complete fabrication,” Conway replied. “Vice President Pence is a very loyal, very dutiful, but also incredibly effective vice president, and active vice president, with this president. He is a peer to the president in the West Wing.”

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