LAS VEGAS – Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insists that former President Donald Trump’s announcement launching a 2024 campaign won’t impact his decision on whether he’ll also jump into the burgeoning White House race.
Asked by Fox News if his former boss’ move on Tuesday would be a factor in his own decision, Pompeo quickly answered “none” during a sit-down interview with Fox New Digital on the sidelines of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“If you put yourself forward to be a candidate for President of the United States, you damn well better believe that you got the spine of steel the intellectual capability and the temerity to be the commander in chief for the most important country in the history of civilization. And if you believe that it shouldn’t matter who the heck gets in the race, if you’re the only one or if there’s 15 of you,” Pompeo said.
“Who else decides to get in the race won’t impact our decision… There’ll be lots of folks who think about it. There’ll be a handful who get in I’m sure, but the decisions those folks make will be independent of the decision that we make,” Pompeo added.
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Pompeo, an Army officer on the front lines of the Cold War in Germany who was later elected to Congress from Kansas and served as CIA director and later as America’s top diplomat in the Trump administration, crisscrossed the country the past year and a half on behalf of fellow Republicans running in 2022 midterm elections. During his travels, he made numerous stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — the first four states to vote in the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
Pompeo’s political action committee went up with ads in the early voting states, another sign he’s seriously mulling a White House bid. Pompeo, a Fox News contributor, recently said that “we are doing the things that one would do to be ready to make such an announcement and then to engage with the American people on the ideas that we believe matter.”
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Asked Friday about his timetable to make a 2024 decision, he told Fox News “we’re still working our way through. We figured by the first quarter next year we need to be hard at it if we’re going to do it.”
Minutes later, speaking in front of the crowd of high-powered GOP activists and donors at the RJC dinner, Pompeo joked that he was “the warmup act tonight” for former Vice President Mike Pence, who was set to follow him at the podium.
“Who knows, the next time we’re together we could be on the stage,” Pompeo joked. “Who knows who will be between us and what nicknames we’ll have,” he added, pointing to potential presidential primary debates ahead between him, Pence and Trump.
Pompeo told Fox News he was disappointed with last week’s election results, when the GOP failed to win a Senate majority, lost key governors races and secured a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives — disappointing GOP expectations for a “red wave” election.
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A number of Republicans in the wake of the midterm elections have criticized the former president for boosting far-right MAGA style candidates — who supported Trump’s unproven claims the 2020 election was stolen — who won GOP primaries but ended up losing in high profile competitive general election showdowns.
Pointing to his former boss, Pompeo said “as for President Trump, I think we should be looking forward… I don’t think the American people are interested in looking backwards.”
“The American people are looking for things that matter to them tomorrow. And I think we had too many candidates that spent too much time talking about yesterday or a week ago or four years ago, and not enough time talking about how they would deliver good outcomes tomorrow and next week and four years from now,” he argued.
There was a similar message from term-limited GOP Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who also addressed the RJC crowd on Friday night.
Pointing to setbacks by the Republicans in the 2018 midterms (when the lost the House majority), the 2020 elections (when the party lost the White House and the Senate majority) and last week’s midterms, Hogan emphasized: “Trump said we would be winning so much we’d get tired of winning. Well, I’m sick and tired of our party losing. This is the third election in a row that we lost and should have won.”
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“I say three strikes and you’re out,” added the vocal Republican critic of the former president. “If you repeatedly lose to a really bad team, it is time for new leadership. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was overwhelmingly re-elected last week, has seen his standing with conservatives across the county soar over the past two years, and has seen his numbers in the early 2024 GOP nomination polls surge in recent weeks.
DeSantis addresses the RJC confab on Saturday, but Hogan – who reiterated he’ll make his own 2024 decision after his tenure as Maryland governor ends in mid-January – questioned whether the Florida governor may have the appetite to take on Trump.
“I’m not sure he’s going to be a candidate,” Hogan told reporters on Friday. “Does he want to take on Trump? I’m not sure. I know most of the media’s focused on that.”
“I can tell you in almost every race I’ve seen the guy that comes out of the box first that everybody’s talking about two years out is almost never the nominee,” Hogan added.