As the questions about President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization at Walter Reed continue to grow, so too do the challenges facing his understudy, Vice President Mike Pence.
In this extraordinary moment of national crisis, few people have as daunting a set of tasks as Pence. He is first in the line of presidential succession, the man on tap to assume the duties of Commander in Chief if Trump’s condition should worsen. He is preparing to shoulder an increasing number of Trump’s governing and campaigning responsibilities with the President hospitalized. He is getting ready for a vice presidential debate Wednesday against a formidable opponent, with stakes that have soared amid the President’s illness. And he is trying to do all of it with an eye toward his own political future, mindful that his boss reflexively turns on those who grab too much of his spotlight.
So far Pence has acted as though it’s business as usual. The Vice President was given a clean bill of health Friday by White House physician Jesse Schonau, who announced that he had tested negative and was not in danger of exposure to COVID-19. “Vice President Mike Pence does not need to quarantine,” Schonau said in a memo released to reporters. “Vice President Mike Pence remains in good health and is free to go about his normal activities.” He tested negative again on Saturday, according to an aide.