Vice President Mike Pence appears to be asserting some level of control over President Donald Trump when it comes to taking sides in the political battle between Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis for the Republican nomination for Florida governor.
According to a story in Monday’s New York Times, Pence is taking on a greater role in shaping the GOP’s strategy in the 2018 midterm elections. It’s a role that is reportedly defining the involvement by the White House in elections such as Florida’s governor’s contest.
The Times article says Pence has worked insistently to shape Trump’s endorsements, “prodding him in the contests for governor of Florida and speaker of the House, among others.”
“The same month, Mr. Pence weighed in to deter Mr. Trump from intervening aggressively in the race for governor of Florida. The president had endorsed Representative Ron DeSantis, a vocal defender of Mr. Trump and critic of Robert S. Mueller III on Fox News, in a December tweet, and privately told Mr. DeSantis to expect a joint appearance this spring.”
DeSantis announced he was planning to run for governor after the first of the year. He made his announcement on Fox News following the endorsement from Trump. The president made his endorsement in a tweet Trump posted in December in which he called the Florida Congressman a “brilliant young leader … who would make a great governor of Florida.”
Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2017
The Times reports that Pence encouraged the president in April to stay clear of the GOP gubernatorial race.
“But Mr. DeSantis faces a contested primary against Adam Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and a former House colleague of Mr. Pence. After allies of Mr. Putnam appealed to the vice president, Mr. Pence — along with cautious White House aides — argued against further meddling in the race, according to people briefed on the White House deliberations. Mr. Trump has yet to appear with Mr. DeSantis.”
Pence and Putnam were both elected to Congress in 2000. While Trump has yet to campaign for DeSantis, he has continued to promote DeSantis, most recently calling him an “absolute warrior” last month during a phone interview on Fox News.