Trump officially files in N.H.; Kasich says he’s not jumping in

For the Monitor
Published: 11/8/2019 8:38:48 AM
Modified: 11/8/2019 8:38:36 AM

Vice President Mike Pence returned to New Hampshire on Thursday to file to place the name of his boss – President Donald Trump – on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballot.

And the vice president made some news during his stop at the Secretary of State’s office in the State House.

Pence blasted a new report suggesting he had considered supporting the use of the 25th Amendment to have President Trump removed from office.

And on the day that a foreign policy aide to the vice president was testifying in front of the Democrats’ House impeachment inquiry, Pence emphasized that neither he nor the president did anything wrong in their dealings with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaking with the Monitor and other news organizations after the filing ceremony, Pence dismissed “without qualification” rumors that he considered invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

Pence’s comments came hours after the anonymous author of an upcoming anti-Trump book reportedly cited anonymous sources to declare that the vice president would support the 25th Amendment to have the president removed from office. Huffington Post obtained an excerpt of A Warning, which is written by the unnamed senior Trump administration official who penned a scathing attack on the president in an anonymous New York Times op-ed last year.

The vice president told the Monitor that “when those rumors came out a few years ago, I dismissed them then. I never heard any discussion in my entire tenure as vice president about the 25th Amendment. And why would I? I mean the record that we’re celebrating today here in New Hampshire, the record that we’re going to be taking all across this country is a testament to President Donald Trump’s leadership.”

And the vice president took aim at the author, saying “it’s just appalling to me. If there’s someone in our administration or served in our administration who doesn’t support this president, doesn’t support his agenda, they should do the honorable thing and resign.”

As Pence filed in New Hampshire, Jennifer Williams – his special adviser for Europe and Russia – was behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. The White House had tried to prevent Williams from appearing or limiting her testimony, but she complied with a subpoena served by the majority House Democrats. Williams was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky.

The president has come under fire over the phone conversation, in which he asked Zelensky to look into the dealings of former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. Biden is one of the top Democrats aiming to challenge Trump in next year’s election. Fueled by whistleblower complaints, a transcript of the call released by the White House and the testimony of numerous witnesses, Democrats have argued the president was asking a foreign country to try interfering in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that Trump was using that money as leverage, Trump repeatedly has insisted that he did nothing wrong. He said there was no “quid pro quo” and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

Pence told reporters “the American people have the transcript of the president’s call and they can see that there was no quid pro quo and the president did nothing wrong.”

The vice president, who’s remained on the periphery of the issue to date, stressed “in all of my discussions with President Zelensky, we focused exclusively on President Zelensky’s efforts to end corruption in Ukraine and also to enlist more European support ... I know as the facts continue to come out, people will see that the president did nothing wrong, that the focus of our administration, all of my contacts with President Zelensky, were in the national interest.”

New Hampshire was Trump’s first primary victory. His crushing win over a large field of 2016 GOP rivals launched him toward winning the nomination and eventually the White House.

Pence filed on behalf of his boss – continuing a tradition of the vice president filing in New Hampshire on behalf of an incumbent president running for re-election. Then-vice president Joe Biden traveled to New Hampshire in 2011 on behalf of President Barack Obama, as they ran for re-election in 2012.

“For this small town boy from southern Indiana, it’s a very humbling day for me,” Pence stressed. “To be able to be here today in the first-in-the nation primary state to be able to have the privilege to adding his name to the ballot is a great honor to me.”

Pence highlighted “the level of enthusiasm across America for President Trump and for what he’s been able to do for the American people.”

But there’s plenty of speculation the vice president will run for the top stop in 2024. Pence told reporters “I’ll keep you posted.”

Adding the speculation, Pence made a pit stop after his State House visit. He greeted customers at Manchester’s century-old Puritan Backroom restaurant – a must-stop for generations of White House hopefuls.

Kasich partially closesdoor to 2020 run

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich – back in New Hampshire for the first time in the year – mostly – but not entirely – closed the door on Thursday to a primary challenge against the president. Kasich, who finished second to Trump in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, said he won’t file to place his name on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary ballot.

“What it looks like for me at this point and time is there is no path. We’re only eight days away from the filing deadline here and I don’t intend to file because I don’t see a path.”

But the very vocal Trump critic didn’t totally shut the door to running in 2020, saying he doesn’t know what the future will bring.

“There might be a path that I stumble across sometime soon,” Kasich noted. “I don’t know what will happen in this election cycle.”

And he didn’t rule out a 2024 run, noting “I don’t know what will happen in this election cycle. I know this – in the next election cycle I will be younger than the three leading candidates that are running for president today in the Democratic Party, so that’s always a possibility.”

Lewandowski says2020 decision coming soon

Potential U.S. Senate candidate Corey Lewandowski says a decision’s coming soon on whether he’ll jump into the race for New Hampshire’s GOP U.S. Senate nomination. The winner of next September’s primary will face off in a year against two-term Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign manager and cable news surrogate, who remains a close outside adviser and loyalist to the president, was at the Secretary of State’s office for the visit by Pence.

Lewandowski said, “I’ll make my decision by the end of the year, looking at the political climate, looking at my best ability to help this president get re-elected and looking at my family’s commitments of what a Senate race does, so I’ll make this decision by the end of this year, one way or another to get into this race.”

Three Republican candidates are already in the race – retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc, former N.H. House Speaker Bill O’Brien, and self-made millionaire attorney Bryant “Corky” Messner.

Lewandowski is currently a key cable-news surrogate for the president as Trump pushes back against the House impeachment inquiry.

Asked if he could run for the Senate and continue his efforts on behalf of the president, he said, “I think there’s an opportunity to continue to be an advocate for the president against this narrative that he did something wrong as it relates to this impeachment process. But running for the Senate is a full-time job.”

But he added that, “I love a fight and I think if I would run against Jeanne Shaheen, it would be unlike any race she’s seen before.”

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