The vice president won’t watch the final night of the Democratic National Convention because he has to be up early. Friday morning, Mike Pence will launch an aggressive and grueling on-air offensive doing five back-to-back interviews as Americans prepare for their day.
A source familiar with the vice president’s schedule tells RealClearPolitics Pence will go live with “Fox and Friends,” “Mornings with Maria,” CNN, “CBS Morning News,” and “Good Morning America.”
It is a classic media blitz, an opportunity for Pence to offer an immediate rebuttal to Democrats as their convention wraps. The source close to the vice president told RCP that the programing, notably the upcoming CNN interview, shows that “we are not shying away from any conversation.”
Always on message, Pence will likely deliver standard campaign fair on the economy, the Supreme Court, and administration efforts to combat the coronavirus. But with each appearance by the mild-mannered VP, Trump World is laying down a very real taunt: Republicans are not the ones afraid of the media.
“He will do almost three times as many interviews before lunch tomorrow [as] Biden or Harris have done since their VP pick was announced,” the source said.
Throughout the pandemic, the Trump campaign has argued that Biden is “alone” and that he has retreated to “his basement.” And after the convention, campaign staff for the unconventional but accessible president now argue the Democrat is dodging the press.
“Vice President Mike Pence is proud to make the case for the re-election of President Trump. And he’ll easily contrast the president’s great record of accomplishment for the American people with Joe Biden’s history of failure and plans to raise taxes by $4 trillion,” Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, told RCP. “If Joe Biden’s handlers are afraid of putting their candidate on the morning shows, well, voters can read into that what they want.”
It isn’t entirely a partisan attack. Reporters have been griping for some time about lack of access to the Democratic ticket.
When Biden and Harris declined to take questions on the second day of the convention, Johnathan Martin of the New York Times said the dodge was “not a show of confidence.” The national political reporter added that “the seriousness of the topic and the times — to say nothing of Biden’s own criticism of Trump’s contempt for a free press — makes accountability all the more essential.”
CNN host Brianna Keilar was similarly unimpressed, tweeting that the network was “pressing the Biden campaign. There needs to be more questions from reporters.”
A spokesman for the Biden campaign waived away those complaints, noting that Harris has done at least two interviews since being added to the ticket (one with 19th News and another with Grio magazine). Biden also did an interview with rapper Cardi B in Elle Magazine. More are on the way, the aide explained, noting that the first televised interview of the duo would air on ABC News on Friday.
“While Donald Trump rages tweets late into the night, Vice President Biden and Senator Harris are laying out a unifying vision for America at the Democratic National Convention, and while Trump continues to historically mismanage this pandemic, Biden has spent months laying out a clear plan to stop this virus and build our economy back better,” Mike Gwin told RCP.
But what about the Friday morning media blitz? “It doesn’t matter how much Mike Pence spins for Trump in an attempt to keep his spot on the Republican ticket.”
“Donald Trump’s abject failure on COVID-19 has cost over 170,000 people their lives and driven our economy into a ditch,” he continued, “and the American people are going to hold him accountable for that this November.”