A New York Times report suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence is planning a run at the White House in 2020 is a “total lie,” according to the vice president’s closest advisers.
“Claims @VP preparing for 2020 run are ridiculous #FakeNews and nothing more than wishful thinking by New York Times,” Pence press secretary Marc Lotter tweeted Saturday. Nick Ayers, the vice president’s recently appointed chief of staff, stated something similar on Twitter shortly afterward.
TheNYT published a “total lie in #fakenews article. Said I’ve ‘signaled to multiple donors @VP wants to be ready for 2020,” Ayers told his Twitter followers, noting also that TheNYT was unable to produce any donors who could corroborate the claim.
Ayers and Lotter were responding directly to a NYT report published Saturday implying that Republicans inside and outside of Washington, D.C. are orchestrating a “shadow” campaign for president in 2020. The report suggested that “multiple advisers to Mr. Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not.”
The report was based on information from an anonymous Republican source from inside the Pence camp. An aide to Pence told former Bush administration official Al Hubbard in June that the vice president wanted to be prepare a presidential campaign if Trump couldn’t complete his first term, a Republican who was supposedly briefed on the meeting told the Times.
TheNYT’s report is not the first time Ayers has had to knock down media-generated speculation about a possible Pence campaign.
Politico reported in May, for instance, that the Republican vice president planned a cross-country summer tour amid rising fears that the GOP is headed for a midterm election disaster. The tour was an attempt to draw major donors and power brokers, where talk about 2018 is certain to be front and center.
Politico indicated at the time that Pence’s travels could be construed as an effort to solidify a strong political based for a 2020 run, but Ayers knocked down the suggestion, telling reporters at the time that, “He has an appetite to fight, so he’s going to get out there and fight on the president’s behalf.”
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