Vice President Mike Pence sought to bat down a report from The New York Times on Sunday that said he would plan to run for president should President Donald Trump 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,” Pence’s statement read.
The statement went on to say the suggestion that Pence was not working solely for Trump’s agenda and re-election was “laughable and absurd.”
The vice president’s decision to rebut the story Sunday through an official written statement rather than verbally or through a spokesperson was a rare move from a high-ranking administration official.
The Times’ report noted Pence’s aggressive political schedule and fund-raising operation and said multiple advisers told donors that Pence would run for president if Trump did not.
Trump has said repeatedly that he intends to be a two-term president and has held several campaign events in advance of the 2020 election.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also pushed back on the Times’ report in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I want to make a remark about Vice President Pence,” Conway said. “I’ve worked with him for 10 years as his pollster, as a senior adviser, and certainly work with him daily in the White House. It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020 — for reelection as vice president.”
And in an interview on CNN’s Erin Burnett “OutFront” Monday evening, Pence press secretary Marc Lotter restated the vice president’s commitment to Trump’s reelection effort.
“It’s very important for people to know that the vice president has only one focus, and that is to deliver on the President’s agenda, and to make sure that the President is reelected in 2020,” Lotter said.
Asked if anyone had spoken with Pence about a 2020 presidential bid of his own, Lotter responded, “Let me be absolutely clear, there is only one election that the vice president is focused on in 2020, that’s his reelection as vice president alongside President Donald Trump.”
Trump support dips
In the interview, Conway also acknowledged Trump’s popularity among Republicans has ticked down.
“His approval rating among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly,” Conway said. “It needs to go up.”