The vice president's office hasn't been one of the competing power centers in President Donald Trump's faction-riven White House — but the recent arrival of Nick Ayers, the veteran campaign operative now serving as Mike Pence's chief of staff, is starting to change that.
Ayers' hire, according to interviews with eight current and former administration officials, was less about a secret campaign to challenge Trump in 2020 and more about helping the vice president — who, at just 58, has a political future ahead of him in the post-Trump era — preserve his future political options, whatever they may be.
A veteran political operative, Ayers had for months been quietly warning the vice president that Trump's troubles could cause collateral damage and that he needed to take a more aggressive posture on a range of issues to ensure he enters the post-Trump era on solid ground, according to two White House officials.
Ayers arrived in the West Wing as Reince Priebus, one of the few White House aides with Washington experience, was replaced as President Donald Trump's chief of staff by retired Marine Gen. John Kelly. Ayers, a 34-year-old Georgia native, replaced Josh Pitcock, the long-serving Pence aide distinguished by his quiet and inoffensive manner.