Scoop: Mike Pence's former chief of staff endorses Trump
Mike Pence's former chief of staff Nick Ayers is endorsing former President Trump, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: It's a sign that after this week's swift and decisive Iowa caucuses results, Trump is starting to pick up endorsements from Republicans who have previously stayed neutral.
What we're watching: "What happened in Iowa was an overwhelming mandate that every dollar should be spent on consolidating the GOP, not attacking Republicans," Ayers told Axios.
- "How long are the candidates going to stay the race and continue to divert money to an intramural squabble?"
- "Let's set aside the things we should be outraged over, and instead just evaluate the policy results," said Ayers, who served for three years as Pence's chief of staff during the Trump White House before co-founding Everylife Diapers.
- Everylife is a subsidiary of the shopping platform PublicSquare where Donald Trump Jr. is a major investor. (Ayers also sits on the board of PublicSquare)
The details: Ayers considers the remaining candidates — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley — friends but noted "they had two years to make their case to voters and they fell 3x short."
Between the lines: Ayers tells Axios he has deep respect for Pence and that the two men enjoy a great friendship.
- During the Trump administration, Ayers was asked to become Trump's chief of staff after John Kelly's departure, but did not take the role.
The other side: Ahead of Monday's Iowa caucus, Pence encouraged voters to choose another candidate and denounced Trump's characterization of the events of Jan 6, 2021 as "peaceful."
- Pence said the early state contests allow "good Republican voters" to "give our party a fresh start and give us new leadership to lead our party forward in the election and beyond."
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details about Everylife Diapers and PublicSquare.