The New York Times just published an interesting piece about Vice President Mike Pence, saying they have evidence he is discussing running for president in meetings with Republican operatives.
While Pence has praised President Trump openly, the Times reports that Pence wants to be prepared for a run in case he needs to do it given the many investigations currently ongoing against Trump and his senior aides/family.
Per the Times:
In a June meeting with Al Hubbard, an Indiana Republican who was a top economic official in Mr. Bush’s White House, an aide to the vice president, Marty Obst, said that they wanted to be prepared to run in case there was an opening in 2020 and that Mr. Pence would need Mr. Hubbard’s help, according to a Republican briefed on the meeting. Reached on the phone, Mr. Hubbard declined to comment.
Mr. Ayers has signaled to multiple major Republican donors that Mr. Pence wants to be ready.”
The Times also noted uncertainty in the Republican establishment about Trump being on the 2020 ticket in discussions with more than 75 Republicans at every level of the party, including elected officials, donors, and strategists – and said contingency planning was already in the works. Pence was a big part of that.
“Most significant, multiple advisers to Mr. Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not, the report states.
Besides just talking, Pence has already done a number of things that signal he’s running. 1) He’s already created his own political fund-raising committee, the Great America Committee. He’s even raised more in political donations than President Trump’s own political group, America First Action. 2) Pence hired a campaign operative as his chief of staff last month, someone who has never worked in federal government, but whose expertise lies solely in getting someone elected.
The other thing: Republicans are wanting Pence to run. Many of the party’s establishment is pretty open about it, too. They don’t think Trump is doing the job as president, and Pence knows that.
“For some, it is for ideological reasons, and for others it is for stylistic reasons,” Mr. Charlie Dent said, complaining of the “exhausting” amount of “instability, chaos and dysfunction” surrounding Mr. Trump.
In the mean time, Pence has met with conservative activists of the Koch brothers, hosting fundraisers at his Naval Observatory residence, and other big names.
“They see him moving around, having big donors at the house for dinner,” said Charles R. Black Jr., a veteran of Republican presidential politics. “And they’ve got to try to keep up.”
This doesn’t mean Pence is unloyal to Trump, it just means the Republican establishment isn’t sure Trump will be around in 2020. Special Counsel Robert Mueller who just recently put together two grand juries in the Russia investigation against the Trump administration could ultimately decide if Pence takes things a step further.