Vice President Mike Pence rejected allegations Sunday that he is making plans to run for president in 2020, noting that the suggestion is “disgraceful and offensive,” Reuters reports.
The statement came as a response to a New York Times report that Republicans were forming a “shadow campaign” and President Trump was not to be involved. The report said that the vice president and his advisors “have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not.”
According to the report, Pence had kept a tight political agenda, as well as had created his own power base, which included a political fund-raiser dubbed the “Great America Committee.”
But Pence called the article “fake news” and said his entire team was focused on advancing Trump’s agenda and seeing him re-elected in 2020.
“The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration,” Pence said in a statement.
The Times stood by its coverage. “We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself,” New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in an email.
Pence has good relations with conservative political groups and some of the Republican Party’s big donors, including billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
He is also a Trump loyalist, and there is typically little distinction between his public statements and the policies of the president.
As the probe digs deeper into Russia’s reported meddling in the elections of 2016, and the alleged ties to Trump’s campaign members, Pence has distanced himself from the president when it comes to the best way to approach Moscow.
Pence slammed Russia’s presence in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia last week, adding that relations cannot improve if Moscow does not change its stance on Ukraine and pulls back support for Syria, Iran and North Korea.
The U.S. Congress recently passed a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia with overwhelming bipartisan support, but Trump signed it into law last week with reluctance.
“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low,” Trump wrote on Twitter after signing the bill. “You can thank Congress.”
Trump has described probes into his campaign’s ties to Russia, including those under way in Congress and a Justice Department investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, as a “witch hunt.”
White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway also rejected the allegations that Pence was preparing to run for president in 2020.
“It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020 – for reelection as vice president,” Conway told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
“Vice President Pence is a very loyal, very dutiful, but also incredibly effective vice president, and active vice president,” said Conway, adding that she had worked for Pence for a decade as his pollster and senior adviser.