Wednesday marks the first debate in the Democratic presidential primary, but Republicans are already thinking a bit further ahead to 2024. Including, apparently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Politico has a report out today about Pompeo’s prospects. The latest in the will-he-or-won’t-he saga is that, despite Pompeo ruling out a run for a Kansas Senate seat in February, “several of his confidants say that is simply not the case and that he is quietly evaluating the next steps in his political career.” Complicating matters is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still pushing for Pompeo to run for the seat, calling the former Kansan congressman his “first choice.”
Beyond a few quotes though, nothing has really changed; there’s nothing indicating Pompeo is any closer to a decision now than he was in February. What’s particularly funny about this is Pompeo’s political calculation, which apparently includes the delusion that he could actually be president one day. Per Politico, emphasis mine:
Few GOP politicians have more ambition or the prospect of upward mobility than Pompeo, whom senior Republicans would back without hesitation if he entered the race to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
For Pompeo, a Senate run could be a prelude to a presidential run in 2024. At the least, a spot in the Senate would keep him politically relevant regardless of Trump’s fate in 2020. Still, some senators said privately that the gravitas of the secretary of State post would position him better for a White House run than if he were one of the most junior senators in the building.
Pompeo himself has spoken privately about the prospect of a presidential run. He and his friend Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) attended a private dinner at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual retreat in Sea Island, Ga., this spring.
Asked whether he’s considered running for president, Pompeo responded, “I have,” and then pointed at Cotton and joked: “And I might be running against that guy,” according to one attendee.
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that being secretary of state provides a direct path to the White House, while being a junior senator for about four years does not. For sure.
As an aside, here’s Democrat Joe Manchin hoping this homophobic reactionary stays exactly where he is:
“He brings a certain amount of credibility and he has a certain amount of strength within the eyes of the president to be able to speak truth to power maybe more than most,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) one of the few Democrats who supported Pompeo for his current position. “So I’m hopeful, for that reason, that Mike will stay where he is.”
A question you should ask yourself when reading a story like this is, “Who is this person’s base?” If the answer is “Heritage Foundation staffers,” it’s not serious. Being popular with both the Senate majority leader and Donald Trump is not hard—you only need to kiss two asses—and it does not make you a formidable presidential candidate.
Mike Pompeo is a right-wing movement conservative who thirsts for a war in the Middle East. I don’t have enough fingers to count all of the people in the United States Senate with presidential ambitions who fit that description, let alone Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and whatever ghoulish governors, members of Congress, and whatever other unhinged businessmen who are putting the pieces in place for a 2024 run.
Mike Pompeo may remain secretary of state. He might decide to run for Senate, if Trump’s re-election chances look bad enough. But president? Let’s just say I’m skeptical.