Mike Pence: Vice President on the Hot Seat?

Rumors that President Trump could replace former Indiana Governor and current Vice President Mike Pence continue to persist, with one particular name circulating through Washington’s political grapevine.

It remains a rumor in the capital and beyond. President Trump has been – at the very least – contemplating with the idea of replacing Vice President Mike Pence on the 2020 ticket with a familiar name: Trump confidant and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley.

Haley is a logical choice and has long been seen as someone with serious ambitions. Haley herself more or less confirmed this in her book “With all due Respect”, which was published the previous month. In it, she expresses her devoted support for Trump, in what can be interpreted as her very own letter of application, not only for the vice presidency but the White House in 2024.

For Trump, Haley makes sense on several fronts. Back in 2016 Pence, a devoted evangelist secured the votes of the Christian right for Trump, which turned out to be the most important group of voters that facilitated Trump’s win with Evangelists making up 25 percent of all voters. Since 2016, however, Trump has lost significant support among white women from the suburbs also mostly evangelists. Haley, who had been the Governor in conservative South Carolina until 2017, could reenergize the momentum Trump desperately needs from the women voters in 2020.

Then there is also the amicable relationship Trump and Haley have had. With Pence, on the other hand, Trump never really got warm, it would appear. Both men are diametrically opposed individuals. Pence is a devoted Christian, who used to be an embodiment of strict conservative values, particularly during his time as Governor. Then there is Donald Trump. The New York real estate developer and reality TV star, who, by all accounts, had never stood for conservative values before joining the GOP.

It was a peculiar choice, to begin with, however, Trump’s team knew it needed a classic Republican to obtain the evangelist vote. Moreover, Pence has arguably on several occasions displayed a lack of support for Trump by distancing himself from too many of Trump’s affairs. The latest example is the Ukraine scandal. Here, Pence has given the impression that he had nothing to do with anything, nothing at all. Naturally, Trump was not too amused about the distance Pence attempted to put between himself and Ukraine. As a result, Trump pretty much urged the press to not only focus on his telephone conversations with Ukrainian President Selensky but those of Pence as well.

Only the previous week, Trump was asked the question of whether or not he would be replacing Pence. He responded that Pence was not only his friend but had done “a great job” as Vice President. Nonetheless, when asked about Haley, he responded that “she would be great” as Vice President. Words that are far from being an endorsement in favor of Pence.

However, there is more to a potential replacement of Pence other than political strategy and hurt egos. For Trump, it also remains an issue of self-preservation, as Pence continues to pose a constitutional threat to Trump – at least in theory.

The recently published book “A warning” illustrated this notion perfectly. The book is essentially an expose of the Trump administration, anonymously authored by a source that identifies himself as a “senior Trump administration official”. In it, the author claims that most staff members were certain that Pence was willing to trigger the 25th Amendment when Trump had dismissed FBI Director Comey in 2017.

As such, Pence could have ousted the President, as the 25th Amendment allows for the Vice President to take over the President’s duties if the majority of the cabinet decided the President is no longer able to conduct his job – in this scenario due to mental incapacity. And while Pence has negated the idea to ever have even discussed the possibility, it is unlikely that Trump is completely ignoring these rumors.

Most importantly, there is the President’s track record. A track record that displays Trump’s proclivity to fire members of his staff without any hesitation, as soon as they are no longer of use or – in his eyes – disloyal.

One should not be surprised about a change on the ticket, as the 2020 election will be tough for Trump. If he is certain that Haley can obtain the women’s vote, her place on his side will be more than conceivable, particularly as a potential Biden candidacy was likely to strip him of significant blue-collar votes.