Vice President Mike Pence blasted The New York Times on Sunday over an article suggesting that he is forming a shadow political campaign to run for president in 2020.
In a statement issued by the White House, Pence called the Times piece â€œfake newsâ€ as well as â€œdisgraceful and offensiveâ€ and â€œlaughable and absurd.â€
â€œTodayâ€™s article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration,â€ Pence said.
In the Times article, headlined â€œRepublican Shadow Campaign for 2020 Take Shape as Trump Doubts Grow,â€ reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns assert that Pence is creating an â€œindependent power baseâ€ in case there is an opening for president in three years.
The piece does not suggest that Pence will directly oppose President Trump in 2020. But the article notes that Trumpâ€™s political future is uncertain given the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his rocky start so far.
The reporters note that Pence has created a fundraising committee, the Great America Committee, and hired a political operative, Nick Ayers, as his chief of staff.
And one Pence aide, Marty Obst, told a Republican bigwig in a private meeting in June that Pence â€œwanted to be prepared to run in case there was an opening in 2020,â€ according to The Times.
Pence did not directly address the clues laid out in the Times piece, but he insisted in his statement on Sunday that he stands in solidarity with Trump.
â€œWhatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the Presidentâ€™s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd,â€ he said.
â€œThe American people know that I could not be more honored to be working side by side with a president who is making America great again,â€ he added.