Vice President Mike Pence dismisses talk of rivalry with Nikki Haley

Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence described his relationship with former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley as very close, days after Politico reported on a growing rivalry between the two.

"What I can tell you is that Nikki Haley and I are very close friends," Pence told BlazeTV's Eric Bolling for an interview scheduled to air Tuesday evening. "We are both of us completely focused on re-electing this team in 2020."

The interview was conducted during Pence's trip Monday to South Carolina, his third visit this year to a state that will play a major role in the 2024 GOP presidential primary.

Haley, who created the political advocacy group "Stand for America" after leaving the Trump administration, is considered a potential 2024 contender.

There's also been persistent speculation that President Donald Trump might drop Pence from the 2020 ticket in favor of Haley.

"Enough of the false rumors," Haley tweeted last week. "Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years. He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support."

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, left whispers to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a high level Security Council meeting on United Nations peacekeeping operations, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, left whispers to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a high level Security Council meeting on United Nations peacekeeping operations, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 at U.N. headquarters.

Asked by Bolling if Trump has directly told him he will be on the ticket, Pence pointed to a 2018 news conference in which Trump was asked if he was keeping his running mate.

In response, Trump turned to address Pence.

"Mike, will you be my running mate?" he asked. "Stand up, Mike, please. Raise your right hand. No, I’m only kidding."

More recently,Trump shot down the idea of replacing Pence with Haley during a June interview on the Fox Business Network.

"I love Nikki and there are places for Nikki, and Nikki's future is great, but Mike Pence is the person, 100%," Trump said. "We won together. We have tremendous evangelical support."

Pressed again by Bolling on whether he expects to be on the ticket, Pence responded; "We've talked about it and I’m really looking forward to campaigning shoulder to shoulder with this president."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vice President Mike Pence dismisses talk of a rivalry with Nikki Haley