Vice President Mike Pence has slammed a report that suggested he might be planning to run for president in 2020.
The New York Times report, titled "Republican Shadow Campaign for 2020 Takes Shape as Trump Doubts Grow," was based on interviews with more than 75 Republicans including elected officials, donors and party strategists, many of whom implied that there was a lack of confidence in President Donald Trump.
"They see weakness in this president," Sen. John McCain of Arizona told the newspaper. "Look, it's not a nice business we're in."
Pence, according to The Times, has taken a number of measures that seem to reflect an intention to run for president. For instance, he has set up his own fundraising committee, the Great America Committee, which has received more disclosed donations than Trump's primary fundraising group, America First Action.
Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said a lot of establishment Republicans have spoken openly about their desire to see Pence run.
"For some it is for ideological reasons, and for others it is for stylistic reasons," he explained, adding that many are fed up with the "instability, chaos and dysfunction" of Trump's administration.
According to sources, Pence's aides have privately discussed the possibility. Specifically, Pence aid Marty Obst reportedly told Al Hubbard, a former official in the George W. Bush administration, that they were making preparations in case they saw an opportunity open up for 2020.
Speaking to The Times, Obst denied that such a conversation had taken place and said the idea of Pence running in 2020 was "beyond ridiculous."
Pence himself responded in a similar fashion, calling The Times' report "disgraceful and offensive" in an Aug. 6 statement.
"Today's article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team," Pence said. "The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration."
He added: "The 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. Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the President's agenda and see him re-elected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd."
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," White House staffer Kellyanne Conway said there is "zero concern" that Pence is eyeing the presidency.
"That is complete fiction. That is complete fabrication," she said. "And I know that his advisers who had comments attributed to them have pushed back strongly, as has the vice president. And as am I right now unequivocally."