Keep Your Eyes on Pence

On Saturday, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at the New York Times reported that a number of Republicans are already slavering at the possibility that Trump will not run again in 2020 — among them, naturally, Vice President Mike Pence.
In most cases, the shadow candidates and their operatives have signaled that they are preparing only in case Mr. Trump is not available in 2020. Most significant, multiple advisers to Mr. Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not.

...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 also installed Nick Ayers, a sharp-elbowed political operative, as his new chief of staff last month — a striking departure from vice presidents' long history of elevating a government veteran to be their top staff member. Mr. Ayers had worked on many campaigns but never in the federal government.

...Mr. Pence has made no overt efforts to separate himself from the beleaguered president. He has kept up his relentless public praise and even in private is careful to bow to the president.

Mr. Pence's aides, however, have been less restrained in private, according to two people briefed on the conversations. ...Mr. Ayers has signaled to multiple major Republican donors that Mr. Pence wants to be ready.

For his part, Mr. Pence is methodically establishing his own identity and bestowing personal touches on people who could pay dividends in the future. He not only spoke in June at one of the most important yearly events for Iowa Republicans, Senator Joni Ernst's pig roast, but he also held a separate, more intimate gathering for donors afterward.
Pence has also "turned his residence at the Naval Observatory into a hub for relationship building," hosting the Koch Brothers, arch-conservative Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and Kentucky coal barons Kelly and Joe Craft, among others.

At the "large gatherings" he convenes, he "keeps a chair free at each table so he can work his way around the room. At smaller events for some of the party's biggest donors, he lays on the charm." Gross.

It's remarkable how confident Pence is that none of the Trump administration corruption will stick to him. Not surprising, given that the media inexplicably believes his innocent act, but remarkable all the same.

His aides deny that this obvious maneuvering is to position himself to run in 2020, calling the suggestion "beyond ridiculous." And who are you going to believe — your own functioning brain that can draw obvious conclusions from easily observable data, or the lying aides to a lying scoundrel?

On Joy Reid's show this weekend, Rep. Maxine Waters made it clear that she's going to trust her own skills of observation.

Also, I wanna just say that, you know, the rumor is that, you know, [Pence] is getting ready — because maybe he believes that something might happen, and he should be ready to step in. Or that he can run in 2020 and win. So, I don't think we should be concerned about him; Trump should be concerned about him!
Now, you know I don't like to disagree with Rep. Waters, but the fact that it's plain as day Pence is angling to make sure he's the 2020 Republican frontrunner now is exactly why we should be concerned about him.

He's leveraging his position as vice-president to make sure he starts the 2020 race with an insurmountable head start on all the other candidates. If he doesn't get the position by default because Trump is ousted, then he wants to make sure he's got every possible advantage in a contest.

Which, of course, he vehemently denies:
Vice President Mike Pence declared his loyalty to [Donald] Trump on Sunday and denounced a New York Times article suggesting that he was positioning himself to run for president in 2020 if Mr. Trump does not seek a second term.

"Today's article in The New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team," the vice president said in a statement. "The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration."

He added: "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."

Danielle Rhoades Ha, a Times spokeswoman, said in response: "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself."
Keep your eyes on Pence. He's coming for the presidency.

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