Pence slams Times story about 2020 bid as 'disgraceful and offensive'

Vice President Pence on Sunday dismissed a New York Times story saying he and other top Republicans are running shadow campaigns to defeat President Trump in 2020, calling the report “disgraceful and offensive.”

“Today's article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this administration,” Pence said in an official White House statement.

The Times story published Sunday suggests Pence, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are visiting early-voting states and taking other actions that indicate at least a preliminary 2020 effort.

“Pence’s schedule is so full of political events that Republicans joke that he is acting more like a second-term vice president hoping to clear the field than a No. 2 sworn in a little over six months ago,” according to the story, which further suggests such efforts are largely the result of the multiple investigations into Russia meddling and collusion, which have thrown the Trump administration into disarray.

“Whatever fake news may come our way, my entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the president's agenda and see him re-elected in 2020,” Pence also said. “Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd. … The American people know that I could not be more honored to be working side by side with a president who is making America great again.”

A senior member of the vice president's staff told Fox News that Pence would headline a series of campaign events for Trump this fall.

Pence as recently as last week make clear his commitment to serving the president, in an exclusive Fox News interview. "All that I’m preparing for every day is to do everything I can to see President Donald Trump reelected in 2020."

Kasich ran unsuccessfully against Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and has largely remained critical of the president.

Fox News' Kristin Fisher contributed to this report.