Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday pushed back at a New York Times story from the weekend that hinted his busy political schedule is a sign he is prepping to run for president in 2020.
In a four-paragraph statement posted to his official government Twitter account, Pence called the Times' article "absurd," "disgraceful" and "offensive."
"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."
The Times article released Saturday, titled, "Republican shadow campaign for 2020 takes shape as Trump doubts grow," detailed how Pence and other Republicans have allegedly been building a "shadow campaign" in recent months in preparation for 2020.
The article explained that Pence's recent nonstop political schedule, along with a recent hiring, proves he is laying the groundwork for a 2020 White House run.
From the Times' article:
Mr. Pence has been the pacesetter. Though it is customary for vice presidents to keep a full political calendar, he has gone a step further, creating an independent power base, cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent and promoting himself as the main conduit between the Republican donor class and the administration.
The vice president created his own political fund-raising committee, Great America Committee, shrugging off warnings from some high-profile Republicans that it would create speculation about his intentions. The group, set up with help from Jack Oliver, a former fund-raiser for George W. Bush, has overshadowed Mr. Trump’s own primary outside political group, America First Action, even raising more in disclosed donations.
Mr. Pence also installed Nick Ayers, a sharp-elbowed political operative, as his new chief of staff last month — a striking departure from vice presidents’ long history of elevating a government veteran to be their top staff member. Mr. Ayers had worked on many campaigns but never in the federal government.
"Mr. Pence is methodically establishing his own identity and bestowing personal touches on people who could pay dividends in the future," the article added.
The Times' article also cites Republican Sens. Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), as well as Ohio Gov. John Kasich — who ran unsuccessfully in 2016 — as Republicans who are already potentially laying the groundwork for 2020.
However, the article did add one caveat: that the "shadow candidates and their operatives have signaled that they are preparing only in case" President Donald Trump does not run in 2020, which many GOP strategists have uncertainty about, the article said.
Pence, in his statement, unequivocally denied the Times' reporting and called it "fake news." He also said he is focused on serving Trump.
"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," Pence said.
My statement regarding the absurd @NYtimes article. https://t.co/htvYSbS2dy— Vice President Mike Pence (@Vice President Mike Pence)1502030927.0
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also pushed back at the story Sunday, telling George Stephanopoulos on ABC "This Week" that Trump will run for a second term.