President Donald Trump declined to endorse Vice President Mike Pence should he mount his own bid for the White House in 2024.
"You're talking about a long time. You can't put me in that position," Trump said Friday when asked in an interview with "Fox & Friends" if Pence would have his "automatic endorsement" if he followed in his boss' footsteps.
While Trump said he would have to evaluate the field of Republicans in five years, he added that Pence is a "very, very outstanding person" and that he would give his potential candidacy "strong consideration."
Pence, the former governor of Indiana, has not explicitly indicated he would launch a run for the Oval Office in 2024, although speculation has swirled about his future political ambitions. He has remained deferential in regard to Trump, serving as an obedient deputy who has remained quietly on the sidelines — but always on message — to a president who values loyalty above all else.
The vice president regularly travels around the country to tout the administration's agenda and raise money and hold events for fellow Republicans. He has repeatedly praised Trump, at times likening him to biblical saviors and historical figures.
"From King David's time to our own, President Trump has now etched his name into the ineffaceable story of Jerusalem," the vice president said in a speech last year at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
In another instance, Pence compared Trump to celebrated civil rights Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process, to become a more perfect union," Pence said in January, referring to King. "That's exactly what President Trump is calling on Congress to do, come to the table in a spirit of good faith."
Pence has frequently raved about Trump's "broad shoulders," and he has been spotted many times looking adoringly at his boss.
"I'd like my wife to look at me just for one day the way Mike Pence looks at President Trump every day they're together," Kenneth Adelman, an official in President Ronald Reagan's administration, once told the Atlantic. "That would be special."
Trump and Pence are believed to have a close working relationship, with the president tweeting last year, "I can't imagine any President having a better or closer relationship with their Vice President then the two of us."
It was recently reported, however, that Trump has largely abandoned the decades-old tradition of holding one-on-one lunches with his vice president with no aides present. Instead, the president has invited both his and Pence's top aides along to the lunches.