Mike Pence's entire future runs through Trump

If he runs in 2024, Pence will need to stay in Trump’s favor. And that’s no easy thing. His allegiance hasn’t stopped Trump from questioning his value. Inside the White House, Trump has mused about whether Pence pulls in enough voters beyond Christian conservatives, the ex–White House official told me. In reply, aides would tell Trump: “Be careful, he brought an awful lot of votes your way and if you’re seen to be turning your back on the evangelicals, you may be in trouble,” this person said. (White House spokesman Judd Deere told me in a statement that “any suggestion that President Trump does not appreciate and value Vice President Pence’s advice, experience, and skill is simply false and complete fabrication.”)

How exactly Pence stays on Trump’s right side is something of a mystery. Obsequiousness is surely part of it. Last year, Pence gave a speech at the Munich Security Conference and in the course of the half-hour address he mentioned the president’s name 30 times—once per minute. (In his own half-hour speech at the same conference in 2015, then-Vice President Biden mentioned his boss, Barack Obama, just one time.) A European official who attended Pence’s speech told me he was approached later by a Chinese diplomat who confided that the performance reminded him of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, “where you had to mention the name of the ‘Great Leader’ every third sentence.”…

After Pence won an Indiana congressional race in 2000, he would meet with Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister, and pray and read scripture together. Schenck sees two warring and unresolved dimensions of Pence’s personality, ambition and altruism, and says one seems to be crowding out the other. “If he were to seek pastoral counseling from me, I would say to him, ‘Brother Mike, Jesus commands you to love your neighbor, not love your boss,’” said Schenck, who plans to vote for Biden, the first Democrat he’s supported in a presidential race since Jimmy Carter in 1976. “That’s not God’s command.”