Pompeo Says Despite Speculation, Run for Senate ‘Off The Table’

July 30, 2019 by Dan McCue
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed widespread speculation that he’s considering a run for the U.S. Senate, telling an audience of business men and women Monday that such a bid “is off the table, as a practical matter.”

“I am going to serve as secretary of state every day that I get the chance to do so,” Pompeo told the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

“Of course, we all serve at the pleasure of the president, but I hope I get to do this for a while longer,” he said.

In answer to a series of questions posed by Economic Club president David M. Rubenstein, Pompeo recalled the sense of urgency he felt after becoming secretary 15 months ago.

He said his first order of business was making sure the State Department would be ready in a moment of crisis.

“I spent a lot of time making sure my team was prepared for the day … when something really bad happens that was unexpected,” Pompeo said.

“Is your team capable? Do you have the resources and people on your team who can respond in the moment to something that frankly you hadn’t given enough thought to in terms of priorities?” he said.

Pompeo, who was first in his class at West Point, and served in Congress before being named President Donald Trump’s first CIA director, said the best part of his job is getting the “chance to help ordinary Americans understand what we’re doing and delivering them an environment where fewer and fewer of their kids have to be in armed conflict.

“That’s our mission set everyday: to get American outcomes through diplomacy, and I’m enjoying every minute of it,” he said.

Not that internal debates and strong disagreements aren’t part of the mix with the administration.

Pompeo — the nation’s top diplomat — described such moments as part of “a very robust process.”

The secretary said when he briefs President Trump on a matter, he almost always arrived with some documentation in hand, “at the very least a one-page summary that says ‘Here’s the outline of what I think the priorities are and how we should think about this particular problem.’”

With that, the president likes to engage in oral exchanges, which Pompeo described as “elucidating.”

“He’s very focused on where the money is and how we use economic leverage to achieve our diplomatic goals,” the secretary said.

Intrigued by Pompeo’s willingness to take the audience inside the Oval Office, Rubenstein noted that with the exception of Henry Kissinger, who was simultaneously Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, there has often been “some tension” between the respective holders of those positions.

“How’s your relationship with John Bolton?” Rubenstein asked.

“I mean, look. There’s always tension among leaders of different organizations,” Pompeo said. “We come at these things from a different viewpoint. Ambassador Bolton has his responsibility to ensure all the ideas are vetted and get to the president, and the secretaries, me, the secretary of Treasury, of Energy, the director of national intelligence, each have their own mission sets.

“So yes, we have robust, lively debates. And I agree with each of them often and disagree with most of them sometimes,” he said.

For all this, Pompeo said at the end of the day the best way to influence the president on foreign policy matters is to “deliver value.”

“This is something I talk about every day,” the secretary said. “It’s not about ‘Does he like Mike or does he like Al or does he like Alice?’ It’s about, ‘Did you show up with an informed, fact-based theory that can deliver outcomes that [further] the president’s intent?’

“If we do that. If we show up with the best answer. We’ll drive policy. If we don’t, we’ll just be banging our gums,” Pompeo said.

Asked whether, having seen the job up close, he’d be interested in running for president himself at some point, Pompeo said, “I have never been able to predict what my next gig will be, and I suspect that is the case with respect to this.”

“I will say the service that I’ve had the chance to do has been a blessing. I’m almost 20 years now in federal service — 18 years in the Army, then in Congress and now in the executive branch, and I do hope I’ve left things a little bit better,” the secretary continued.

“America has given me an awful lot and if I thought I could do a good turn … there’s nothing I wouldn’t consider doing for America,” he said.

Rubenstein observed that the president has never written an unfavorable tweet about Pompeo.

“It’s early. It’s early,” Pompeo said.

“Would he consider staying on, if Trump is elected to a second term?” Rubenstein asked.

“I haven’t thought about it yet,” Pompeo said. “It’s hard to answer those questions. The real question is ‘Will the president still want Mike Pompeo as secretary of state?'”

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