by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Vice President Mike Pence has beefed up his West Wing communications team as he confronts an accelerating impeachment inquiry into President Trump and an unpredictable 2020 reelection campaign.
Pence is under pressure to answer questions about Trump’s actions and own his role in the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, which are the focus of a widening investigation by Democrats in the House of Representatives. The vice president is simultaneously trying to reassure skeptical voters that Trump can be trusted with a second term.
To maneuver, Pence is leaning on a few key aides: chief of staff Marc Short, a savvy strategist with deep Washington connections; press secretary Katie Waldman, a veteran of congressional campaigns and the Homeland Security Department; and Hannah MacInnis, who worked under Trump digital guru Dan Scavino in the White House and is helping the vice president invigorate his social media operation.
Republican insiders, conceding the political risks of impeachment, say it is crucial that Pence communicate quickly and effectively.
“I know Short and Waldman well. They’re both really good at their jobs. Pence is lucky to have them. But I think it’s too soon to say how any of this works out for anyone,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist.
The Trump campaign often deploys Pence to woo establishment-oriented Republicans and swing voters in critical battlegrounds. He hit the trail this month amid the unfolding impeachment inquiry to bolster Trump’s 2020 position and immediately faced challenges.