Is Mike Pence backing out of Donald Trump's battles? VP becomes increasingly absent from POTUS' campaign
Pence has been less attacking than the president on 'election fraud' charges and is reportedly not happy with Trump attacking GOP governors
Vice President Mike Pence has always been a prominent face in President Donald Trump’s fundraising campaign for this year’s presidential election. Since October, the former Indiana governor’s name has always featured in the fundraising email for the GOP president’s re-election bid. However, that is no longer the case.
According to a report by Daily Beast, not a single fundraising email from the president’s campaign or the Republican National Committee (RNC) fundraising account has featured the veep’s name in the “from” field. Moreover, another subtle change has been witnessed this week with a few emails swapping out the official Trump-Pence campaign logo into one showing only the president’s name.
The Beast report cited an informed source to say the fundraising emails do not go to Pence’s team for approval. It also cited an RNC official who, however, said the digital team was only testing a new logo around the "end of month deadline". This week, some of the joint fundraising committees have included the original campaign logo featuring Pence’s name below that of Trump.
Pence less vocal than Trump on 'election fraud'
However, the speculation is still rife. Unlike several other Trump loyalists, Pence has stopped short of claiming election fraud even while asking the supporters to back Trump and him to “defend the election results”. On the election night a month ago, too, Pence was less bombastic than Trump while addressing the media after Joe Biden was projected to prevail over his opponent.
While the president was in no mood to concede defeat, Pence sought vigilance and vowed to protect the “integrity of the vote” — something the observers found to be more realistic.
According to the report, several high-placed sources feel the change in the graphics, along with Pence’s absence from Trump’s frantic pleas over "election fraud", are not just coincidental. “According to four people with knowledge of the matter, they reflect an effort by the vice president and his team to distance Pence from some of the president’s more outlandish claims about a conspiracy to undermine the election and illegally deny him a second term in office,” the Beast report said.
The report quoted a senior administrative official as saying: “It is an open secret [in Trumpworld] that Vice President Pence absolutely does not feel the same way about the legal effort as President Trump does.”
Pence believes legal challenge has been 'unhelpful'
“The vice president doesn’t want to go down with this ship…and believes much of the legal work has been unhelpful.” The Pence camp, however, rubbished the speculation. The Beast quoted Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for Pence, who said on Wednesday, December 2: “As he has for the last four years, the Vice President is proud to stand with the president—in this case to ensure every legal vote is counted and every illegal vote is rejected. The Daily Beast’s anonymous sources have no real insight into what the Vice President thinks on these matters.”
Trump’s relation with Pence has always been considered a tradeoff. The vice president gave Trump credibility among the establishment and religious types while sharing the spoils of the latter’s unorthodox coalition of voters, the Beast said, adding the equation has now come under strain.
After the November 3 election results came out, Trump became busy fighting his own battle and deployed his legal experts to challenge the results in a bid to overturn the outcome. Pence, on the other hand, is focusing more on the crucial Senate run-offs in Georgia next month, the outcome of which will decide the fate of the chamber.
Pence, if sources are to be believed, thinks Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results will be counterproductive. Being a former governor himself, the 61-year-old is also reportedly uncomfortable with Trump’s attacks on GOP governors in some key states that he has lost this year. Trump has lashed out at a number of governors from his own party accusing them of being unable or unwilling to stop certification of the poll results in their respective states.
“Pence deeply understands the position that [Ohio Gov. Mike] DeWine, [Arizona Gov. Dave] Ducey and [Georgia Gov. Brian] Kemp are in. He has tried to be an effective mediator and communicator between those parties and the president back and forth,” one of Pence’s ally was quoted as saying by the Beast.
“Any time he’s played that role, it’s gone well. The president is satisfied with the facts they’ve provided. And then somehow, without hours or days, the president is publicly attacking them by being fed inaccurate information from other White House sources, which frustrates the VP. It’s not a good look for the president. And it’s only created division in the party at a time when unity is very important.”
The two leaders’ conduct on Twitter also makes the disconnect evident. While Trump regularly shoots off angry tweets condemning the election to be rigged, Pence posts far less number of tweets on the same matter. He instead focuses more on issues like the coronavirus vaccine (he leads Trump's coronavirus task force) or American astronauts going to the International Space Station.
Today the @WhiteHouse Coronavirus Task Force held our Weekly Call with nearly all of America’s Governors as we prepare to distribute a safe & effective vaccine to the American people under Operation Warp Speed in just a few weeks! pic.twitter.com/dxp5w2Wn1E— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 30, 2020
Rumors floated over Trump replacing Pence as VP for 2020
In November last year, Trump nullified rumors that he was looking to replace Pence with Nikki Haley, the former UN ambassador, for this year’s election. He said on ‘Fox & Friends’ that Pence “is our man 100 percent” and also praised him as a “great vice president”.
The speculation gained traction in June last year after Andrew Stein, a Trump-supporting Democrat wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal: "It's too late for Mr Trump to revamp his political personality. But with the 2016 election in the past, Nikki Haley on the ticket could tamp down the antipathy for Mr Trump that seems to afflict so many moderate and Republican-leaning women."
Stein argued that Pence’s necessity was no more like it was in 2016. Four years earlier, he was required to serve as a bridge between Trump and the evangelical voters. But with Trump’s numbers looking good till the time of the pandemic, Pence’s utility seemed to have ended.