Mike Pence’s PAC and Meetings With Big Donors Raise Eyebrows: Is he Planning to Run in 2020?

President Trump and Vice President Pence walk through the White House in Washington on June 22. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump and Vice President Pence walk through the White House in Washington on June 22. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Vice President Pence is spending considerable time cultivating big-money Republican donors at small, private events, including hedge fund managers and executives from brokerage houses, chemical giants and defense contractors, Kenneth P. Vogel reports at the New York Times. Many of these events, whose participants are kept secret from the media and are omitted from Pence’s public schedule, have been taking place at the vice-presidential residence at the Naval Observatory, as well as other nongovernment venues.

While cultivating support from deep-pocketed business interests is nothing new in GOP politics, Pence’s activities raise the question of whether he is doing this for Trump-Pence 2020 — or for himself. As Vogel’s piece points out, Pence’s intimate confabs with wealthy donors and conservative power brokers “have fueled speculation among Republican insiders that he is laying the foundation for his own political future, independent from Mr. Trump.”

All of this suggests something important about President Trump. Despite Pence’s protestations to the contrary, the vice president looks to be preparing for his own political future. Beyond this clear signal about his own political ambitions, Pence’s actions raise the question of whether he has lost confidence in Trump’s ability to come out of the Russia investigation unscathed.

This is not the first time that Pence, in his short tenure as Trump’s vice president, has sparked chatter about his political ambitions — unyoked from Trump. In May, Pence filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, forming his own political action committee, the Great America Committee, marking “the first time a sitting vice president has formed such a separate political arm,” NBC News reported at the time.

The Great America Committee is apparently not wasting any time. Vogel reports that last Thursday, it “held a reception for prospective donors at the Washington offices of the powerful lobbying firm BGR.”

In holding donor events, Great America Committee will do nothing to quell speculation about Pence’s intentions. When he first launched the PAC in May, Pence aides attempted to play down the move by saying its resources will be used to support Republican congressional candidates in the 2018 midterms. But that characterization didn’t diminish how unusual this was: Traditionally, vice presidents tap the resources of their party to support congressional candidates, rather than create their own fundraising organization.

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SOURCE: Sarah Posner 
The Washington Post