With all the Democrats and Republicans lining up to challenge Donald Trump in 2020, we may not have noticed all the subplots. For instance, what if the GOP dumps Trump in favor of Mike Pence? Or dumps Mike Pence as a vice presidential candidate? Trump needed Pence in 2016 to prove his conservative bona fides, but now, Pence doesn’t add anything to the ticket. Wouldn’t it make more sense to pick Nikki Haley, to attract more of the women’s vote? That would explain why she is leaving the UN, but still saying she’ll be campaigning for Trump next year. . .

Rollcall (a conservative publication) notes the cat-and-mouse game of trying to get Trump and Pence to say whether they’d be a team next time.

But a Roll Call reporter, seated a few feet from the vice president, noticed he never actually said anything. Pence was asked about his loyalty and the 2020 GOP ticket at the end of his recent Asia swing — and, again, according to a dispatch from his traveling press pool, he did not answer in the affirmative.

RollCall names seven alternate veep prospects: Nikki Haley, Liz Cheney, Marsha Blackburn, and Kelly Ayotte—all calculated to increase his vote with women. Then, there’s Mia Love, who is not just a woman, but also African-American. Lindsay Graham, who famously said in 2016 that the GOP had gone “batsh-t crazy” in supporting Trump, is now a major Trump booster. Likewise, Ted Cruz, who embarrassed himself at the GOP convention in 2016, has also changed his tune.

It should be noted that Haley is close friends with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jerrod Kushner.

Why would Trump want to dump Pence? The Hill Reporter says Trump doesn’t trust him.

Mr. Trump has repeated the question so many times that he has alarmed some of his advisers. The president has not openly suggested dropping Mr. Pence from the ticket and picking another running mate, but the advisers say those kinds of questions usually indicate that he has grown irritated with someone.

The True Pundit says the mistrust may be that Trump suspects Pence of writing the scathing anonymous OpEd last year in the New York Times.

Whether the NY Times’ source is real — or fabricated — there is a growing rift between President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, well-placed sources confirm.

“Trump doesn’t trust him,” one insider said. “The president operates by instincts and for a long he has excluded Mike (Pence) from key negotiations and matters.”. . .

“Mike is almost an outsider at this point,” one insider said. “Whether he’s on the ticket for 2020 is anybody’s guess. I would say he won’t be but excluding him could cause a backlash. Mike is certainly frustrated.”

Salon, no fan of Trump, says the neutered Pence has been allowed to appear with Trump, but as in the case of the showdown with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Pence just stared and said nothing. And remember that it was reported that Pence was approached to replace Trump on the ticket in 2016, after the “Access Hollywood” tape appeared.

Priebus bluntly told Trump he could either drop out immediately or lose in a historic landslide. According to someone who was present, Priebus added that Pence and Rice were “ready to step in.”. . .

He was genuinely shocked by the Access Hollywood tape. . . The couple was appalled by the video, however. Karen in particular was “disgusted,” says a former campaign aide. “She finds him reprehensible—just totally vile.”. . .

Trump proved defiant in the face of pressure from party leaders. “They thought they were going to be able to get him to drop out before the second debate,” said a former campaign aide. “Little did they know, he has no shame.”

Newsweek says Trump never forgave Pence for his “holier than thou” attitude regarding Access Hollywood.

Sputnik News notes that Trump really doesn’t need Pence anymore.

In other words, Pence, who is known for his Christian religiosity, may be nothing more than a hanger-on to Trump, who already has a firm grasp on the Evangelical vote.

When it comes to building up Trump’s base, Pence “doesn’t detract from it, but he doesn’t add anything either,” the source told Vanity Fair.

Meanwhile, PoliticusUSA theorizes that Trump may have another reason for pushing Pence away.

Other people have speculated that Trump and his advisers are feeding media speculation about replacing Pence as a way for the president to distance himself from his vice president, who he thinks might be in legal trouble.

The Michael Flynn sentencing memo mentioned that Robert Mueller is investigating possible crimes committed by Trump’s transition team in 2016. And Mike Pence was the head of that transition team. It’s looking increasingly likely that Pence committed the same crimes as Flynn, and he might be indicted by Mueller sometime soon.

Still, another reason Trump may want to drop Pence is the rumors that Pence might run against Trump next year, according to AlterNet. As noted above, Pence and Condoleeza Rice were being promoted to replace Trump in 2016. Now, Pence and Haley may be the team.

As President Donald Trump has found himself at odds with both Vice President Mike Pence and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, rumors of a potential pairing of the two on a future presidential ticket may be fueling tensions in the White House. . .

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported: “Republicans close to the White House whisper about the prospect of an alliance between Ms. Haley and Vice President Mike Pence, possibly to run as a ticket in 2020.”

On his podcast, financial analyst Peter Schiff weighs the financial angle, considering that Trump is anything from a traditional Republican regarding economics.

Summary: Republicans face chaos around Trump’s political difficulties, causing some to consider potential advantages of a President Pence. Market volatility has not yet brought the DJIA below pre-Trump numbers while the dollar index slides and gold moves up. Meanwhile, household debt is higher than 2008 levels even as fewer Americans own homes.

But, of course, this could all be a smokescreen. Trump is famous for finding ways to get all the attention, all the time. Some have even theorized the current government shutdown was manipulated by Trump so that the Democrats entering the campaign this month would find all the air sucked out of the room. So the entire Trump-Pence-Haley soap opera may be just another trick to distract attention, while the Trump-Pence team changes the primary and convention rules, unnoticed.