Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff suggested to Republican donors Tuesday that there should be a “purge” of anti-Trump forces in the GOP.
“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,” Nick Ayers told donors at a closed-door Republican National Committee event, according to a report Tuesday from Politico.
The New York Times reported in August that that there is a “Republican shadow campaign for 2020” taking shape, which Pence subsequently called “disgraceful and offensive.” The leaked audio of Ayers instead suggests a possible campaign against Republicans in Congress not aligned with the White House.
An attendee first asked Ayers how donors can “rally the congressional delegation that does support the president and vice president, and rally them and push them to change the current leadership in both the Senate and the House?”
“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this. But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, number one,” Ayers replied. “And number two, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”
The vice president’s chief of staff fretted about the consequences of a Congress controlled by Republicans not following through on campaign promises during the event. “On a year where we could be totally on offense because of how favorable the Senate map is to us — at best it’s going to be a wash,” Ayers said.
He went on to say that the 2018 midterms will be a “referendum on the president’s policies.”
“Don’t we want to give all the upside of actually passing his policies? Because what all of us know and believe is that they’ll work,” Ayers said.
“I’m not being passive aggressive against Leader McConnell. Look, he delivered Judge [Neil] Gorsuch. That was transformational what he was willing to do. He had a plan and he executed it. We just have to have the same aggression and effort and focus on the rest of the [agenda],” the top aide added.
He also addressed the White House’s push for tax reform during the event, telling donors: “The honest answer is, I’m not sure we’re on track to do that… Here’s my skepticism: they had already passed health care bills to repeal and replace Obamacare in both chambers multiple times and couldn’t get that done.”