In a stunning week in political journalism, a presidential campaign has appeared to find its pulse, thanks to a few anonymous sources.
And in that case, it was “Wow,” sources said, with a definite “R” when describing a major Bloomberg television interview with Vice President Mike Pence about this weeks’ burgeoning 2020 race. And that appeared to be the signal for the new Trump Twitter tirade, attacking Vice President Joe Biden for squandering the winning hand that President Donald Trump and Congress had played.
“With his Joe Biden gaffe, WOW, Joe Biden just gave up! I gotta run to get a shot of gas with my handpicked Midas,” the president tweeted. “Either he ran and lost like so many people have or he’s in big trouble but doesn’t want the truth. … I guess you can’t do both.”
Mr. Trump launched into a tirade shortly after Vice President Pence’s interview with Bloomberg’s putatively neutral New Day political team concluded its telecast, according to people familiar with the conversation.
Two of the anonymous sources said Mr. Pence had tried to praise Mr. Biden and his role in pushing his 2008 campaign, but that Mr. Biden had snarled at the point. “I’m finished trying to help you. If you don’t like it, you’re the one who had it coming,” the source quoted Mr. Pence as saying.
The vice president’s aides were not immediately available for comment about the exchange.
Mr. Pence, a lifelong politician who has served since the George W. Bush administration, is often mentioned as a potential president in 2020, but in recent days has faced questions about his heart, given his weight and age, his relationship with President Trump and his apparent aggressive attempt to broker a deal between the White House and his party’s most prominent Republican lawmakers over the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
There were other indications of a budding Biden-polarization. Mr. Pence publicly doubted his party’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, would support an agreement with Democrats on resolving the DACA debacle, which could make for an awkward relationship at a time when Mr. Pence is trying to portray himself as a leader willing to cut deals with Democrats.
The vice president’s people vigorously denied any sort of schism between Mr. Pence and Mr. McConnell, but one of the sources said Mr. Pence’s lunch with the Senate leader at least “left him feeling a little bit of anger” because of the seeming disagreement over what Mr. Pence’s commitment is to Mr. McConnell.
The Bloomberg interview, however, was the leading indicator for Mr. Trump, who ratcheted up his criticism of Mr. Biden on Friday.
“That is why I am thinking about running for president again – to keep the stench of corruption out of the White House!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Republicans, and Mr. Pence, have long derided Mr. Biden for what they saw as a false claim regarding his future presidential ambitions. Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump himself have mocked him repeatedly for his total lack of experience in government and his long record of Democratic support.
But former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served in the administrations of President George W. Bush and Mr. Trump, expressed some confidence in Mr. Biden’s intentions this week, despite his past attacks.
“I don’t know,” Mr. Cheney said during an interview on POLITICO’s podcast on Thursday. “My sense is that he’s still pretty intent on running for president.”
For Mr. Pence, who has become the nation’s most trusted figure on foreign policy, the Bloomberg interview seemed to clarify just what he stands for — to the degree that it was even possible.