But Pence’s decision while in Ireland to stay at the Trump golf resort in Doonbeg, the area his grandfather emigrated from a century ago, caught Washington insiders as another act of fealty from a vice president derided at times as overly obsequious, even “oleaginous.”
On the surface, Trump and Pence insist they have a great relationship and are working closer than ever to win reelection in 2020. (They’ve consistently beaten back rumors that former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is in the running to replace Pence on the 2020 ticket.)
But behind the scenes, tensions have been mounting among Trump, Pence and their top advisers ever since the GOP’s resounding losses in the 2018 midterms. In the weeks afterward, Trump asked aides about replacing Pence on the ticket, and he asked again for their thoughts on Pence during his August vacation at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., according to Trump advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about private discussions with the president.
Current and former Trump and Pence advisers interviewed for this story, as well as my forthcoming biography of Pence, “Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House,” consistently described a personal relationship between Trump and Pence that is warm but somewhat aloof. Pence has a lane that he sticks to in the White House — conservative social policy — but he is not considered to be as influential as people like Jared Kushner or Stephen Miller.
But the relationship between their political team
s has soured greatly in the past year, according to a dozen Trump and Pence aides and Republican advisers familiar with the dynamic. In particular, rumors that Kushner and Ivanka Trump wanted to consider replacements for Pence — specifically trying to find a woman running mate to help win back the suburbs in 2020 — have worried the vice president’s camp, according to Trump and Pence campaign advisers who spoke on background for this story.