Pence under the radar as Trump fights for power
Posted November 11, 2020 8:44 a.m. EST
CNN — President Donald Trump continues to baselessly contest the election results and top Republicans have been circling the wagons to amplify that message. But one key ally has been publicly absent from the conversation: Vice President Mike Pence.
While Trump adopts an aggressive posture on social media and in a falsehood-laden White House appearance last week before the race was called for Democrat Joe Biden, Pence appears to be making a political calculation by keeping his head down.
The vice president, who maintained a busy travel schedule in the weeks before the election, has made scant public appearances since Election Day and has yet to take questions from reporters. Privately, he's towing the line -- but publicly he's remained under the radar in the wake of the election which handed Biden a decisive victory.
Pence's office did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
On Tuesday, Pence spoke with Senate Republicans behind closed doors. On Wednesday, he is expected to join the President and first lady at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Veterans Day, and on Friday, he's expected to address the Council for National Policy.
After it was publicly reported that he was going on vacation as Trump is attempting to contest the outcome of the election, Pence canceled a planned trip to Sanibel Island with his family.
Though Pence tweeted that he told his staff Monday the 2020 fight "ain't over," he was slated to leave the next day for Sanibel and flight restrictions were in place. But those restrictions have been lifted and his trip has been called off. Pence's staff has scheduled events for him around Washington.
The weather in Sanibel Island is also poor this week as Hurricane Eta hits. Local officials said they were concerned about potential flooding.
Pence had referenced that expected vacation during his Tuesday meeting on Capitol Hill, a source familiar with the conversation said. During the meeting, Pence also provided an overview of the campaign's election legal challenges, as well as Covid-19 vaccine progress and the US Senate races in Georgia, which are headed for runoffs.
And though he has been a visible presence on television at key moments -- participating in network morning show appearances during the Democratic National Convention in August, the beginning of the pandemic in March, and after the Soleimani raid in January -- Pence has yet to do so since the election.
Members of Congress, many of whom have been publicly supportive of the President's efforts to challenge election results, are taking note.
"You've got the entire party out there and no VP?" one Capitol Hill aide lamented to CNN.
The vice president, who is widely reported to have presidential ambitions himself, has expressed support for his boss in a tweet.
"I Stand With President @realDonaldTrump. We must count every LEGAL vote," he tweeted last week after political observers noted his silence on the matter last week in the days after he delivered muted remarks in the East Room.
Trump has yet to provide any evidence to back up claims of voter fraud.
Pence has also declined to take a public-facing role as coronavirus task force leader amid record new cases and hospitalizations nationwide.
On the day Biden announced his coronavirus advisory board, the task force met on Monday, the first such meeting since October 20. The group discussed vaccine news from Pfizer, Pence said in a tweet that showed him in the Situation Room without a mask.
Pence has also failed to lead the once-weekly task force conference call with the nation's governors as the pandemic has intensified.
The calls, which are substantive and mainly focus on communicating trends and new information to state executives, have largely happened weekly since the pandemic began. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hosted a call as Pence was on the campaign trail on October 30. Azar also led a call on October 13. Pence, who has led a vast majority of the calls, has not been on a governors' call in well over a month, his last appearance coming on September 29.