While Trump tweets about himself and his political allies, Mike Pence is looking and sounding far more presidential. Maybe a little too presidential.
A photo showing Mike Pence discussing the federal response to Hurricane Harvey was tweeted out from his official Twitter account Sunday night. Then it disappeared.
In the photo, taken in his office, the caption indicates that Pence was speaking with U.S. senators from the affected region about "@POTUS #1 priority- safety of public/1st responders."
— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) August 26, 2017
Pence has also been using his official Twitter account to help spread useful information about emergency resources for Texas residents. Trump, to date, has not done so, either from his personal account or his official presidential account.
The picture of Pence operating in an official capacity and looking very presidential while doing so — in contrast with pictures of Trump hawking campaign hats and tweeting about absurd and unrelated topics — may have gone too far for Trump.
Trump has a track record of attacking those on his own team when he feels they have upstaged him. He was upset about the book "Devils Bargain," which details his relationship with Steve Bannon. Soon after the book made the bestsellers' list, Bannon was ousted from his White House job.
Pence has been assembling a shadow presidential campaign, with a possible eye toward taking over if Trump is removed from office, or perhaps challenging him for the 2020 nomination. (Trump is already in trouble with GOP primary voters, eight months into his term.)
A tweet with Pence emulating the way in which most presidents have responded to storms — cautious phone calls, not strange tweets — may not have endeared him to Trump, and could have resulted in one of Trump's infamous Twitter tirades.
So, the picture disappeared.
Out of Trump's line of sight, however, Pence also did a series of radio interviews — from FEMA headquarters — about the storm.
On the "Trey Ware Morning Show," he discussed the response to the storm from the perspective of a former governor, while also noting "the federal government has a vital role in providing support."
He told KHOU radio, "I can tell you, the hearts of every American are in Houston today." He made a point to commend "Gov. Abbott and local officials on the extraordinary cooperation that's taken place." He added, "You’ll have our support, you’ll have our prayers, and we’ll keep all that coming."
While looking and sounding more presidential than Trump, Pence also appeared on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, which would reassure the conservative base about who is leading during the storm response.
Even though Pence, or his team, acted quickly to delete the photograph that might have resulted in a Trumpian tongue-lashing, he's still sending a clear message about who is really behaving like a president in a time of crisis. And it's not Trump.