VP Pence blasts New York Times report suggesting he’s laying groundwork for 2020 run

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting on February 24, 2017. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Vice President Mike Pence lashed out at the New York Times Sunday over an article suggesting he’s laying the groundwork for a possible run in 2020.

The article, published Saturday in the Times and written by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, asserted that a “shadow campaign” was effectively shaping up to replace President Donald Trump.

The article suggested that the political uncertainty surrounding the Trump White House has prompted Republican officeholders to take “unheard of” steps for a 2020 run.

“Most significant, multiple advisers to Mr. Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not,” the article said.

The piece said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016, intends to increase his national profile. Others said to be eyeing the White House in 2020 include Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, the report said.

A key factor in play is the 2018 midterm elections, which many political observers consider a litmus test for Republicans and Democrats.

The article goes on to say that Pence, while showing steadfast support for the president, is also increasing his national profile with a full slate of political events. His political fundraising committee, Great America Committee, was created despite caution from some Republicans that the organization would create speculation about his political future.

The report said Marty Obst, an aide the the vice president, wanted to “be prepared to run in case there was an opening in 2020.” The aide appealed to Al Hubbard, an Indiana Republican who was a former adviser for the George W. Bush Administration and chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, for support.

The Times report said Nick Ayers, a political operative whom Pence named as his new chief of staff last month, has told multiple donors that Pence wants to be ready for a possible run.

Obst called the suggestion that Pence was positioning himself for a 2020 run “beyond ridiculous,” the report said.

Pence blasted the article in a statement Sunday morning, calling the allegations “categorically false” and deriding the report as “disgraceful” and “offensive.”

Here’s his statement:

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 categorically 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.