It’s no secret that Mike Pence has been running a shadow campaign for president, even though he vociferously denied it in August and railed against the New York Times for daring to say such a thing. What is news is that both Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have gone on record in the past few days saying that Donald Trump might not run again in 2020. Newsweek:
Paul's and Christie’s comments came after special counsel Robert Mueller filed his first indictments in his investigation into Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. ... The indictment was unsealed Monday morning, and the charges don’t look good for a president who campaigned on “draining the swamp.”
“There could well be a primary," the junior senator from Kentucky said on MSNBC, after being asked if a 2020 primary would be good for the Republican Party. Paul had prefaced his remark by saying Republicans "need to know [if] President Trump [is] running for re-election. I think you won't know that until you get into sort of second, third year of his presidency."
Paul’s comment echoes what Trump insider and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told the Today show's Matt Lauer on October 27: "If he runs again I would support him, yes, but I'm not so sure what will happen." Christie added, "Four years is a long time, and especially for someone who has not spent a lifetime in politics, so I think those years affect him differently. So I'm sure the president will make whatever decision is best for him and his family and the country.
Meanwhile, the primaries and shadow campaigns continue, as do TrumpPence’s fundraising campaigns. A new report says that Ohio Governor John Kasich is running a primary against Trump and Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse were named in the same New York Times article as Mike Pence, enumerating the shadow campaigns that they’re running.
Donald Trump may not be able to drain the swamp but he could drain the sewer by lifting the manhole cover and jumping in. As for Mike Pence, who steadfastly maintains that he will support Trump for 2020, It’s been obvious for many months that he’s covering all bets. Slate:
What Pence is doing is ensuring that if for whatever reason Trump opts not to run in 2020—say, hypothetically, that an overwhelming legislative record of nonachievement, collapsed support on Capitol Hill, historically low approval ratings, and federal indictments of campaign and White House officials forces him to declare he’s sick of winning and bow out—then the party will belong to him. Of course Pence and those around him are actively laying contingency plans. It would be malpractice not to do so.
There’s just one sticky wicket. Manafort Monday brought up the fact that Pence and Manafort go back a ways. Pence, right now is conspicuous by his absence. He should have already been at Sean Hannity’s elbow defending His Leader. Instead he’s incommunicado. If Trump Russia brings down Pence as well, it will be very interesting to see to whom the glass slipper passes.