As President Trump’s approval among Republican voters drops, speculation looms about potential challengers from within the GOP ahead of the 2020 election.
Just over six months into his presidency, a CNN poll released Tuesday found that Trump’s strong approval rating among Republicans has fallen to 59 percent, down from 73 percent in February. According to the poll, only 35 percent of whites without college degrees, a key component of Trump’s base, strongly approve of Trump, down 12 percentage points since February.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Republicans, including elected office holders and donors, expressed to the Times uncertainty about Trump’s place in the next presidential race.
The administration has been quick to denounce such claims. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos during a Sunday appearance on “This Week” that Trump “plans on being a two-term president.”
Nonetheless, some Republicans are making moves that could be interpreted as signs of a 2020 run, from trips to Iowa to meetings with donors.
Vice President Mike Pence
Perhaps the most controversial of all suspected 2020 presidential contenders is current Vice President Mike Pence. After a New York Times article Saturday pointed to signals of Pence’s future presidential ambitions and noted that “multiple advisers to Mr. Pence have already intimated to party donors that he would plan to run if Mr. Trump did not,” the vice president pushed back forcefully.
“Today’s article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration,” Pence stated in a statement released Sunday morning.
The Times reported Pence’s packed vice presidential schedule, nods to party donors, the recent hire of political operative Nick Ayers as chief of staff, and appearances at high profile events, including Iowa Senator Joni Ernst’s pig roast, as notable signs that Pence may have big plans for 2020 in mind. Pence’s creation of a PAC, the “Great American Committee” has been interpreted by some as a sign he may challenge Trump. Neither Vice President Joe Biden nor Vice President Dick Cheney created PACs until they left office, but Pence’s Press Secretary Marc Lotter told Fox Monday that the PAC was only created out of “legal…