Pence calls notion of White House bid in 2020 'absurd'

WASHINGTON • US Vice-President Mike Pence has tried to dampen speculation that he is preparing for his own 2020 White House bid, calling the notion "both laughable and absurd".

His statement came in the wake of a New York Times story that detailed early steps that Mr Pence and other Republicans purportedly are taking that are consistent with preparing for a 2020 campaign, even though US President Donald Trump has given no indication that he does not plan to run.

The actions, in some cases, have suggested a lack of confidence that Mr Trump will serve out his term or choose to seek re-election.

"My entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the President's agenda and see him re-elected in 2020," Mr Pence said.

The President has been saddled with job approval numbers that are historically low and is facing a special counsel probe of his 2016 campaign.

"The American people know that I could not be more honoured to be working side by side with a President who is making America great again," Mr Pence said, asserting that the media has been trying to divide the Trump administration.

And Ms Kellyanne Conway, counsellor to the President, said during an appearance on Sunday on ABC News' This Week that she has "zero concern" about a 2020 campaign by Mr Pence.

"The President says privately and publicly often... that he'll be there for 7½ more years," she said. "So he plans on being a two-term president."

Ms Conway also chided fellow Republican operatives said to be pushing the notion of a 2020 "shadow campaign" to succeed Mr Trump.

"Most of the people quoted, most involved, I'm sure, have never won a national political campaign like the one I was involved in and you were involved in years ago," she said.

"Some of them are still not supporting their party and their party's main points of view on tax reform, on health reform, on putting (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in retreat, if not full defeat," she added.

On the Democratic side, former vice-president and 2000 presidential nominee Al Gore has downplayed any suggestion that he might run again.

"I'm a recovering politician," Mr Gore said on Sunday on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS. "The longer I go without a relapse, the less likely one becomes."

WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2017, with the headline 'Pence calls notion of White House bid in 2020 'absurd''. Print Edition | Subscribe