The Trump administration sent a warning to any Republicans potentially looking to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
“The president is as strong as he’s ever been in Iowa, and every potentially ambitious Republican knows that,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told The New York Times for a story about Republicans possibly eyeing 2020.
The newspaper reported on speculation that several top Republicans could be looking to challenge Trump, who has yet to achieve a major legislative accomplishment and is grappling with the ongoing probe into ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.
The Times reported that multiple advisers to Vice President Mike Pence, who has kept a packed political schedule, have hinted to party donors that he would plan to run if Trump did not.
Pence is the first sitting vice president to create his own PAC, Great America Committee, and has been cultivating the administration’s relationship with top conservative donors, such as brothers Charles and David Koch.
The Times reported vice presidential aide Marty Obst as saying he wanted to be prepared if there was an opening to run in the 2020 race, but when reached for comment, the same aide told the newspaper that the idea Pence was positioning himself for a run was “beyond ridiculous”. Pence’s press secretary Marc Lotter issued a tweet calling the claims “fake news”.
Ohio Governor John Kasich has also been seen as someone looking to position himself for a run, given his numerous television appearances and vocal criticism of Trump.
The Times also citied Senators Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton, the latter of whom recently partnered with the president on a bill aiming to curb legal immigration, as Republicans potentially mulling a run.