Wednesday, October 20

Is this the Vice President Mike Pence moment? (Analysis)

(CNN) — This Friday at 8 a.m., the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, will receive the vaccine against covid-19, making him the highest-profile politician in the country to do so.

For Pence, it will be one of the weirdest things in the last four years: a moment when he outshines, even briefly, President Donald Trump. (Trump will not receive the vaccine yet because he has already fallen ill with covid-19.)

Pence, who has built his career on being a stable and reliable conservative, has struggled to find ways to distinguish himself in any meaningful way during Trump’s term because, well, Trump is Trump.

The relationship of the vice president and Trump

Mike Pence

Lately, that reality has been a good thing for Pence. The vice president has largely avoided being sucked into Trump’s fantasy world in which he won the election, but somehow it was stolen.

As Gabby Orr and Nahal Toosi of Politico recently wrote:

“It’s a tactic Pence has used to navigate the final days of Trump’s presidency: staying out of the spotlight and isolating himself from his boss’s unfounded crusade for electoral fraud, all while still finding ways to polish his own credentials and technically follow the party line ».

While Trump has been content to largely lock himself in the White House and tweet conspiracy theories, Pence has taken on many more roles that would once have been the province of the president.

And so Pence was in Georgia on Thursday campaigning for Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are locked in tight second-round races scheduled for Jan. 5. It is the third (!) Time he has visited the state since the election to win support for the two Republican candidates.

And it was Pence who toured a COVID-19 vaccine production facility in his home state of Indiana earlier this week.

And it was Pence who led an event called “Life is Winning” at the White House on Wednesday to promote the Trump administration’s work on abortion.

Pence in the spotlight

For Pence, then, this is the longest sustained period of attention he’s had since the early days of the coronavirus task force, before Trump decided to take over the group’s daily briefings.

None of this changes the uncertainty surrounding Pence’s future, of course. If Trump runs again in 2024, as he has indicated, Pence will be forced to stand aside. And if Trump doesn’t run but endorses one of his descendants as the preferred heir to his political legacy, then Pence won’t be out of luck either.

But that is the unknown future. At the moment, Pence is enjoying national attention in ways that he fought mightily for the past four years.

The point: Trump’s disinterest in actually performing the president’s duties has opened the door for Pence. And the vice president has gone through it.

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