The Chief of Staff for Vice President Mike Pence, Nick Ayers, just lambasted congressional leaders in a closed-door meeting with wealthy donors. He called for a “purge” of GOP lawmakers if they don’t quickly rally around President Trump’s agenda. These remarks were made at a Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Tuesday morning. Ayers also threatened that Republicans are “on track to get shellacked” in next year’s midterm elections if Republican lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities.
Nick Ayers saved some of his most intense words for congressional leaders who do not give full support of the president.
“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,” Ayers said, according to an audio recording of the statements obtained by POLITICO (You can listen below).
When one of the wealthy attendees asked Ayers how they could “rally the congressional delegation that does support the president and vice president, and rally them and push them to change the current leadership in both the Senate and the House.” Ayers responded by saying, “I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this. But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, No. 1. And No. 2, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”
The Vice President’s chief of staff continued, “Because look if we’re going to be in the minority again, we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority.” The crowd responded with laughter and then burst into applause.
Nick Ayers is a longtime adviser to Pence and is widely respected in GOP circles. His harsh words signal a possible departure from Pence’s previous role as one who soothes the tensions between the White House and Capitol Hill. The White House and Pence’s office declined to comment on Ayers’ remarks. Ayers also declined to comment. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office did not respond to requests for comment either.
Ayers was asked why both Trump and Pence have not been able to sin over the “handful” of Republicans in Congress that keep resisting the administration’s agenda.
“Great question,” Ayers quipped. “It’s hard to do when they all maintain their committee chairmanships.”
“They’re all still committee chairmen,” he added after a pause. “There’s only one other option, and then let’s see if that option works.”
The 2018 midterms, Ayers said, will be a “referendum on the president’s policies.”
“Don’t we want to give all the upside of actually passing his policies? Because what all of us know and believe is that they’ll work,” he said. Ayers said that entering the midterms without passing the GOP major legislative priorities is a “suicide mission.”
Ayers had intense words of praise for the way Trump took on the NFL. “Who would have ever said a couple years ago that a politician could take on the entire NFL and, in one week, win? But by my count, 183 players knelt on the national anthem nine days ago and 12 kneeled on Sunday,” he said. “Would that have happened if Hillary Clinton would have been president? No. You would have gone from 180 to everyone.”
The meeting ended with one female attendee asking if she understood Ayer’s message correctly, she said: “Are we all willing, in order to get the tax bill passed, to contact all the people we donate money to — which is a long list — and tell them the money stops coming if they don’t get something done!” The room filled with people’s applause. Ayers then quipped, “If there’s one exception to that, that’s the RNC. But yes.”
What do you think about this aggressive stance coming from Pence’s chief of staff?