Pence to Hit the Campaign Trail

Is that wise?

“Vice President Pence in PA” by The White House is in the Public Domain, CC0

So as not to keep anyone in suspense, I will answer the subtitle question: no, it isn’t. Given that the President of the United States is currently hospitalized with a disease that could be life-threatening, it is irresponsible for the Vice President to engage in risky travel that will inevitably increase his chances of exposure to the coronavirus.

Politico reports: President Pelosi? Pence prepares to risk it all for Trump.

He’s the GOP’s one line of defense between a hospitalized commander-in-chief and a President Nancy Pelosi, and he’s about to depart Washington on a four-day campaign swing in the middle of his boss’s health crisis.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Utah on Monday as he plays the Trump campaign’s lead act for the foreseeable future — the highest-profile surrogate for the president’s reelection at a time when both men can least afford another setback following Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis.

Given the small matter of continuity of government issues here, this is just utterly irresponsible.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Bigger question–at least in my mind–do we really know for sure that Pence isn’t infected? We don’t need more super spreader events. We have enough now without Pence adding to the problem.

  2. Kylopod says:

    While Pence is younger than Trump and looks quite good for his age, he isn’t a spring chicken–he’s 61, which puts him in a fairly high-risk category if he were to catch the disease. In the evil vs. stupid debate we tend to think of Pence as leaning more toward the first category (not that they’re mutually exclusive–Trump is a lot of both, and Pence isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, he just looks smart next to his boss), but it’s striking how many in the GOP appear to believe their own BS. They know exactly what will happen if both Trump and Pence die or become incapacitated at the same time (say hello, President Nancy), yet they act as though they’re invincible.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    Pence is slightly (very slightly) too smart for this. Betcha dollar it was an order straight from Trump, and more a matter of spite than politics. If he has to be sick, so does Pence. How dare Pence hide somewhere safe while Donald is in the hospital?

    If Trump had a brain he’d walk this forward. If he survives he’s going to need someone to pardon him on his way out the door, and it won’t be Nancy Pelosi.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    In lieu of the negative ads Biden pulled attacking Trump, the campaign should start attacking Pence’s record. Its a good way to keep the negative side going while still looking like a respectful adult, and will be a not so subtle reminder to the MAGA base (who aren’t in love with Pence) that without Trump there they are really just voting for the establishment.

    And it will really get under Trumps skin.

  5. Jon says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    In lieu of the negative ads Biden pulled attacking Trump, the campaign should start attacking Pence’s record.

    Ha! And maybe even start referring to him as ‘Acting President Pence’.

  6. Kathy says:

    As far as I know, the only time the Speaker of the House took over the presidency, was after President Bartlett’s VP resigned… Wait. Wikipedia says Bartlett is fictional (I thought he was Catholic).

    Ok, so this has never happened. But then high level lethal virus infections haven’t happened at the White House before, either.

    I wonder whether Pence and the cabinet, never mind Congress, will dare invoke the 25th amendment even if it becomes obviously necessary. I think they won’t, because they’d be afraid of what Trump would tweet if he recovered.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    Utah? The trump campaign believes it needs to make a stop in Utah? Do they believe that they’ll lose Utah due to a massive under vote for president?

  8. KM says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Eh, Utah not really happy with them right now. Probably not enough to flip but enough to turn purplish and that’s gonna freak the GOP right out. They can’t afford to have any stronghold waver and Utah could go the way of CO if the cities turn.

    A red state’s only red as long as their rural areas outweigh their cities and Utah’s been growing for a while, bringing in outsiders with their liberal ways and expectations. All those people who “flee” California? Yeah, they may not like Commiefornia but they have expectations of governments and laws they tend to take with them and the red states they land it get bluer because of it.

  9. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Trump doesn’t think ahead. He’s incapable of it. He exists only in the present. He’s a creature of appetite and impulse.

  10. Blue Galangal says:

    Pence is expendable. Literally no one in Trump’s orbit cares if he catches COVID-19 and/or dies. If the worst happened it would be, “Oh look, Ivanka’s my running mate now!”

  11. Kylopod says:

    @Blue Galangal: If both Trump and Pence die, Pelosi becomes president. Trust me, they’re aware of that.

  12. Gustopher says:

    I guess that leaves Jared and Ivanka in charge?

  13. I don’t really care what the Trump camp does…they have a history of being dumb.
    I think it’s time for Biden to take off the kid gloves and get back in the fight.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    I think sending dishwater Mike on the trail, exposing him to COVID, is brilliant strategy. (Didn’t Lao Tze, or Napoleon, say – Never interrupt your enemy if he’s making a mistake.) It’ll be interesting to see if Pence starts wearing a mask. You’d think even he would be bright enough to figure that one out. But maybe Chuckles Koch hasn’t thought to tell Mike what to think about masks.

  15. Not the IT Dept. says:

    As soon as Trump sees Pence get any kind of media coverage at all, the VP will be grounded. Guaranteed.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Particularly if it is favorable.

  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    Vanity Fair has a short piece of reporting that Don Jr. thinks dad is behaving strangely. He’s supposedly suggested an intervention. But Jarvanka is standing in the way.

  18. Scott F. says:

    Meanwhile, Biden will be campaigning in swingable Florida today and it’s both wise and responsible that he is do so.

    You couldn’t construct a better teachable moment than what we have now. Follow the science and listen to the experts. Accept the restrictions they’ve determined will mitigate the risks and by doing so, you’ll be able to find ways to continue to do the things you need to do. Or ignore the expertise, flaunt the rules, and demand that no one will be the boss of you. And by demanding maximal freedom, you get none as you’re restricted by your own hubris.

    Democrats every action over the coming weeks will make this point implicitly, but they’d be well served to make this point as explicit as possible.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The stopped clock is right

  20. Kathy says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:
    @Sleeping Dog:

    Just lead with “Vice president Pence struck a presidential tone when he said ‘dogs purple marble COVID vaccine doubleplusgood!'”

  21. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: From your Vanity Fair link…

    Trump’s father, Fred Trump Sr., insisted on working even after his Alzheimer’s disease advanced in the 1990s. “To retire is to expire!” Fred Sr. would say. The friend said that as Fred Sr.’s disease worsened––he once came down the stairs wearing three neckties––the family created a system so that Fred could think he was still running the Trump Organization. Every day Fred Sr. would go to the office in Brooklyn and they would give him blank papers to sort through and sign.

    What was President Trump doing in the photos from the hospital? Signing blank sheets of paper…

  22. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The stopped clock is right

    This isn’t a stopped-clock situation. I’m floored by Don Jr.’s admission. I mean it. These people never go off script. Literally everything Jr. (and Eric and Ivanka) has ever said publicly up to now has been devoted to propping up the myth of Trump as a superhuman who never makes mistakes and never has anything wrong with him. It’s as if Baghdad Bob were to suddenly announce that Saddam is screwed.

    I’ve been hearing talk about rats jumping ship for most of the past few years, and nothing ever comes of it. Now, for the first time, I’m not so sure.

  23. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kylopod: Trump would nominate Ivanka as his VP. The Senate would confirm and the HOR would deny. Then he would appoint her by executive order and the GOP Senate would say it’s his right and perfectly constitutional because IOKIYAR.

    Pence wouldn’t even be cold in his deathbed. I mean, we saw the RBG timeline.

  24. KM says:

    @Kylopod :
    Lil’ Donnie might be worried about what happens to him if it all crumbles…. and it *will* crumble if Trump dies or fails to recover fully. The house of cards is precarious enough without Senior endangering himself with reckless car rides. There’s no way anyone who was hospitalized should be joyriding; word is that was the compromise to actually releasing him from medical care. Stop and think about what I just typed: medical professionals taking care of POTUS let him riding around and infect his security detail so he’d agree to stay and be cared for. That’s beyond insane.

    Jr might finally have realized it’s coming down to the end and Daddy’s risking all of them (their health, their safety, their ability to stay out of jail, etc) for the likes. He may have had it beaten into his head that Dear Sister has the lock on Daddy’s ear and it’s full speed over the cliff with him still in the car. That he’s talking intervention means he still thinks he can save the ride but it’s too late – if you can see the cliff edge, you’re going over. Javanka thinks they’ve got this and it’s their time to shine but Jr’s a little more realistic – without Daddy, they are SCREWED. Daddy can pardon them, pay for them, he might still tell them he loves them save them….. Javanka doesn’t have the pull they think they do and Jr needs to them to back the hell up and stop messing with the gravy train.

  25. Sleeping Dog says:


    Junior believe the presidency is inheritable and he’s first in line. Forget about Ivanka, he’ll break her high heel.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    Trump claims he’s leaving the hospital at 6:30 pm tonight.

    If this is true, this is going to be morbidly amusing.

  27. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:
    I just saw this. Is he going against medical advice, or have his doctors signed off on this?

  28. KM says:

    Either way, it’s gross medical incompetence to allow a still infectious POTUS back into the public. He’s only a few days into his infection (well, by their timeline anyway) so he’s still an infection vector and a huge risk to everyone he comes into contact with. Everyone else isn’t on experimental treatments and masks aren’t a thing in this WH, even after the boss caught it.

    Also, is POTUS allowed to got AMA? That has to be a HUGE security risk. Why in god’s name would you let that happen? You know it will all fall back on you as a professional even if he walks out and ignores you. Your career is over if he relapses after you blessed him and your career is over if you let him walk out the door AMA and he drops. Better to err on the side of caution and let him scream at you – at least then you won’t get sued by the family later!

  29. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: It wouldn’t surprise me if Trump collapses a few days later. If so, I wonder how many days Javanka are going to pretend that Dearest Daddy is still alive?

  30. CSK says:

    I think the president, just like anyone else, can go AMA if he wants to do so. What law would stop him? This is different from involuntary commitment for a mentally ill person. (Yeah, yeah, I know; he’s a sick f*ck. But you really have to bouncing off the walls to be committed involuntarily, and he isn’t. Yet.)

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: If I were Little Donnie, I’d be worried, too. Does he have a job of his own/any marketable employment skills beyond being named Trump? My guess would be “no,” but some people think I’m too cynical.

    Little Donnie is too young to retire and too old to be unemployable. And I suspect that Ms. Gilfoyle is only along for the ride and won’t be up for sharing whatever meager net worth she may have on that anchor.

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Well, they do have all of those blank sheets of paper with his signature on them. All they need is one with the signature convincingly placed to print the release against advice disclaimer on and they’re good to go. 😀

  33. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    You know, I think you’re onto something.