White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that the report that Vice President Mike Pence is waging a shadow campaign for president in 2020 is "complete fiction."
The New York Times reported Pence's advisers had indicated his plans to run for president in 2020 if President Donald Trump opted not to seek re-election in a story headlined, "Republican Shadow Campaign for 2020 Takes Shape as Trump Doubts Grow."
Pence has created an "independent power base," the Times reports, "cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent and promoting himself as the main conduit between the Republican donor class and the administration."
Conway pushed back strongly against questions about the story from ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
"It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020, for re-election as vice president," Conway said.
"So no concern he's setting up a shadow campaign?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"Zero concern. That is complete fiction. That is complete fabrication, and I know that his advisers who had comments attributed to them have pushed back very strongly, as has the vice president, and as am I right now unequivocally," Conway said.
Pence tweeted that the story was "categorically false" on Sunday, saying it was "disgraceful" and "offensive." He wrote that any indication he was doing anything but seeking to advance Trump's agenda and get him re-elected in 2020 was "absurd."
— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 6, 2017
The Times spoke with more than 75 Republicans at every level of the party who expressed uncertainty as to whether Trump would seek a second term.
"The president says privately and publicly that he'll be there for seven-and-a-half more years," Conway said. "He plans on being a two-term president."
Conway said that many of the people quoted in the story had likely never won a presidential campaign and were part of a culture in the Republican Party that too often rewarded losers.
"I would tell my Republican brethren get on board. Help us with tax reform and health reform and stop looking at 2020," she said.
UPDATE: 12:34 P.M.: This story was updated with Pence's statement that the story was false.