Vice President Mike Pence has been a draw for the President’s campaign, and since October, not more than a day has passed without his name entering a fundraising email for Trump’s re-election.
But that changed at the end of last month. As of November 25, not a single fundraising email from the Trump campaign or his Republican National Committee fundraising account has featured Pence’s name in the “from” field. And this week, that joint Republican National Committee fundraising committee, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, made another subtle change: A handful of its emails replaced the official Trump-Pence campaign logo with a ne including the name of the president.
At first glance, these may seem like minor changes to some nifty parts of Team Trump’s fundraising strategy. A source close to the process said fundraising emails are not being sent to Vice President Pence’s team for approval and an RNC official said the digital team is simply testing a new logo towards the end of the month. Indeed, some of the Joint Fundraising Committee’s emails this week included the original campaign logo with Pence’s name underneath Trump’s.
But several high-level sources say the change in graphics, as well as Pence’s disappearance from the headers of President Donald Trump’s increasingly frantic and conspiratorial appeals, is not in fact a coincidence. According to four people familiar with the matter, they reflect an effort by the vice president and his team to push Pence away from some of the president’s most outlandish claims about a plot to undermine the election and illegally deny him a second term.
“It is an open secret [in Trumpworld] that Vice President Pence has absolutely different feelings about the legal effort than President Trump, ”said a senior administration official. “The vice president doesn’t want to go down with this ship … and thinks a lot of the legal work hasn’t been helpful.”
The Trump campaign declined to comment for this story. Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for Pence, said on Wednesday evening: “As he has done for the past four years, the Vice President is proud to stand by the President – in this case, to ensure that every legal vote is counted and that every illegal vote is rejected. Anonymous Daily Beast sources have no real insight into what the Vice President thinks of these issues.
The political marriage between Trump and Pence has always been based on a simple compromise: Pence gave Trump credibility among the establishment and religious types and, in return, shared the spoils of the much larger coalition of voters. and Trump’s unorthodox. But in the aftermath of the 2020 election, that deal was severely tested.
While Trump looked after his own future, Pence preferred to focus his energies on the critical Senate towers in Georgia. Pence, according to sources, privately views the legal operation led by Rudy Giuliani to overturn the 2020 election through massive deprivation of the right to vote as counterproductive and doomed. And, as a former governor himself, he has been particularly uncomfortable with Trump’s attacks on Republican governors in some of the major battlefield states he has lost. The president accused several GOP leaders of incompetence or neglect in their inability or refusal to stop the certification of their state’s election results.
“Pence deeply understands the position that [Ohio Gov. Mike] DeWine, [Arizona Gov. Dave] Ducey and [Georgia Gov. Brian] Kemp is in the game. He tried to be an effective mediator and communicator between these parties and the president back and forth, ”said an ally of Pence. “Every time he played that role it went well. The president is satisfied with the facts they provided. And then somehow, with no hours or days, the president attacks them publicly by receiving inaccurate information from other White House sources, frustrating the VP. It is not a good look for the president. And that only created division in the party at a time when unity is very important.
The result was a subtle but clear effort to create political space.
Since polling day, Pence has walked a tightrope in rhetoric trying to publicly support Trump’s position in general terms while avoiding the more outlandish allegations the president frequently floats on Twitter and in his few post-election public remarks. Pence has repeatedly called for “every legal vote” to be counted and for alleged electoral fraud to be rooted out.
But he carefully avoided supporting Trump’s more conspiratorial allegations of electoral mischief, and refused to answer questions about his views on specific Trump statements. For example, a group report of a November 20 rally in Georgia, where Pence campaigned on behalf of the senses. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue noted that the vice president “did not echo the president’s rhetoric about the election being” rigged. “
The disconnect is also evident on Pence’s Twitter feed. While the president tweeted fervently about the alleged conspiracy against him, Pence’s tweets on the matter were far fewer and more muffled. He devoted much more space on social media to the White House’s efforts to release a coronavirus vaccine and to NASA’s rocket launch last month, which sent American astronauts to the International Space Station.
Since November 15, Pence has tweeted only three times about alleged election irregularities. Two of those tweets were links to reports, shared without comment, about recount and vote-checking efforts in Georgia, and one simply retweeted a reporter’s quote from Pence’s comments at this gathering of the Nov. 20, where Pence said Trump “will continue to fight until every legal vote is counted” and “every illegal vote is rejected.”
Pence made other equally innocuous comments in his remarks that tiptoed around the president’s allegations of widespread voter fraud. But he also repeatedly called on Georgia Republicans to ‘stand up for the majority’ in the US Senate – a tacit recognition that if Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats, a Vice President Kamala Harris would break the 50 division – 50 of the upper house and would give his party a majority.
This unspoken premise is a reality that Republican agents and major party donors have recognized even as the president remains stubborn.
“I have yet to see any evidence that would convince me that [the Trump legal team] will succeed in getting that to the Supreme Court or even anything to an appeals court, ”said Ed Rollins, a veteran GOP strategist who chairs the pro-Trump Great America PAC group on Wednesday. “I’m disappointed with the effort, as a person who has been in the game for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of ranting and raving from them, but not very good legal challenges. Neither Rudy nor Sidney [Powell] no one else on the team is considered a top electoral advocate and I see none on this team. “
On Wednesday, Pence traveled to Capitol Hill where he participated in the swearing-in of Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) – an act that implicitly recognized the validity of the Arizona election. Hours later, Trump gave a 46-minute speech in which he called for the quashing of results in six battlefield states, including Arizona, and for him to remain president. Pence was not by his side.
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