US vice president Mike Pence has fiercely denied a report that he is preparing to make a 2020 bid for the White House.
He was responding to a New York Times article that some Republicans were putting together a “shadow campaign” for alternative presidential bids if Donald Trump did not run in the next election.
In a statement on Twitter, Mr Pence called the report “disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team”.
“The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration,” it said.
The New York Times article, published on Sunday, described Mr Pence as a “pacesetter” in a move by a group of Republicans to prepare contingency plans for the possibility that Mr Trump did not run in the 2020 election.
The report was based on interviews with a range of Republican supporters and politicians, and analyses of the activity of senior politicians in building up their support base.
In recent months Mr Pence has set up his own fundraising committee, the paper reported, as well as speaking at a range of major Republican events and attending meetings of key supporters.
It said most party operatives stressed other candidates would run only if Mr Trump did not, but added that interviews with 75 Republicans had indicated “widespread uncertainty” about whether the current President would run in three years.
The claims were also denied by those close to Mr Pence.
Nick Ayers, the vice president’s chief of staff, said he had not indicated to donors that there was a possibility of Mr Pence running in 2020, and tweeted the report was fake news.
In his statement Mr Pence insisted that his “entire team” would focus on advancing the President’s agenda for a 2020 reelection.
“Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd,” he added.
The New York Times has stood by its coverage.
“We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting and will let the story speak for itself,” spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said.