According to a report from the New York Times, former vice president Mike Pence is headed down to Georgia on Monday to rally voters for Gov. Brian Kemp (R) knowing full well that it will anger his former boss, Donald Trump.
What makes his decision even more notable is that Kemp -- despite Trump's endorsement of challenger David Perdue -- is expected to win the nomination with ease, according to the most recent polls, making Pence's visit more about separating himself from the former president than providing a boost to the incumbent governor.
According to the Times' Jonathan Martin, "After four years of service bordering on subservience, the increasingly emboldened Mr. Pence is seeking to reintroduce himself to Republican voters ahead of a potential presidential bid by setting himself apart from what many in the G.O.P. see as the worst impulses of Mr. Trump."
While Pence has bucked the former president in a series of addresses given to conservative groups, his appearance in support of Trump nemesis Kemp, who refused to help the former president in his futile attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election, strikes a whole new note in the deterioration of their relationship.
"It is an emphatic break between the onetime running mates, who have not spoken for nearly a year but have also not publicly waged a proxy war until now. Mr. Pence, his aides say, knows full well what going down to Georgia represents and the symbolism alone will stand without him targeting Mr. Trump or even Mr. Perdue in his remarks," the Times is reporting.
The Pence appearance has not gone unnoticed by his former boss, with Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich issuing a bitter statement claiming, "Mike Pence was set to lose a governor’s race in 2016 before he was plucked up and his political career was salvaged. Now, desperate to chase his lost relevance, Pence is parachuting into races, hoping someone is paying attention. The reality is, President Trump is already 82-3 with his endorsements, and there’s nothing stopping him from saving America in 2022 and beyond.”
The statement made no mention of the high-profile losses of Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice K. McGeachin, both of whom Trump endorsed, as well as the still-pending results in Pennsylvania where Dr. Mehmet Oz is facing a possible recount in his primary battle with David McCormick for the GOP Senate nomination.