In Sunday's New York Times, an article about Republican "shadow candidates" looking to 2020 "as Trump doubts grow" claiming that Mike Pence is methodically laying the groundwork for a run has inspired a swift rebuke from the Vice President's office.
Pence wasn't the only contender listed. Sens. Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton were cited, as well as Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Here is the Times' "evidence" of Pence's intentions:
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.
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.
This administration has shown a disdain for the "customary," so it shouldn't be surprising that Pence isn't holding to custom. Pence's closeness to the Republican donor class has been cited as one of his strengths, not a way of distancing himself from Trump. And given the animosity between congressional Republicans and the White House (as evidenced recently by the Senate voting to block Trump from making recess appointments), "installing" a "sharp-elbowed political operative" is probably a great, and necessary, idea.
The VP's office is now on the record slamming the Times' report as "fake news."