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Mike Pompeo attacks Biden's policies heightening speculation of 2024 presidential run

Rozina Sabur
·4-min read
Mike Pompeo speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference - Reuters
Mike Pompeo speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference - Reuters

Mike Pompeo, the former US Secretary of State, touted the Trump administration's America-first foreign policy and attacked Joe Biden's agenda in a pitch to conservative voters on Saturday.

Mr Pompeo said that while working under Donald Trump, "I sent messages repeatedly to bad guys around the world that if you touch an American, you'll pay dearly", in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.

Mr Pompeo's speech at CPAC, the annual conservative jamboree, has heightened speculation that the former top US diplomat is considering a 2024 presidential run.

“What’s good news today for me is when you’re a diplomat...you have to stay in your lane. I don't have that. I’m not a diplomat. I’m going to let it rip,” he said.

During the fiery address, Mr Pompeo praised the assassination of top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike last year.

"So how many of you remember Qasim Soleimani?" he asked the audience, mocking: "Allah rest his soul."

"He didn't cause trouble for Americans ever again."

Mr Pompeo also bragged about the ire his actions had provoked from Iran and China, saying: "The Chinese have sanctioned me [and] the Iranians don't think so much of me either."

"But I'm proud of our fight... we have upended the status quo," he said to rapturous applause.

He slammed Mr Biden, accusing the new US president of capitulating to China and risking the loss of American jobs through his promotion of green energy.

"When President Biden reentered [the Paris Climate accord] I can tell you that [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping was smiling every single minute, and the American worker lost," he said.

Mr Pompeo signalled that he would adhere to the agenda of his former boss if he runs for president, repeatedly invoking the accomplishments of the Trump administration and urging Republican voters to be "pipe hitters" for the next four years.

"America First is right for America,” he said. “The entire world benefits when America is fearless and bold and strong."

Mr Pomepo was among a number of Republican 2024 hopefuls who took to the stage in Orlando, Florida to boost their profiles and underscore their conservative credentials to the party's grassroots.

The conference had been seen as an opportunity for the Republican Party to consider its next steps after losing the White House and both houses of Congress to Democrats in November's election.

However, the three-day event has largely served to underscore Republicans' ongoing devotion to Mr Trump, who will deliver the conference's keynote address on Sunday.

Other potential 2024 runners, including senator Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis, have all shown they will continue to embrace Mr Trump's legacy by using their speeches to showcase their enduring loyalty to the former president.

Another 2024 hopeful, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, also asserted herself as firmly in Mr Trump's camp as she took to the stage shortly after Mr Pompeo.

Ms Noem gained a national platform last year when she railed against coronavirus lockdowns and refused to implement a mask mandate in her state.

Despite her state seeing some of the worst per-capita Covid-19 deaths in the country at some points over the last few months, Ms Noem bragged that her strategy had won out.

Taking a page from the Trump playbook, Ms Noem criticised the advice of Dr Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert and a key government adviser on the pandemic.

“I don't know if you agree with me, but Dr Fauci is wrong a lot,” she told CPAC attendees to loud cheers.

Meanwhile Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, largely avoided mentioning Mr Trump during his appearance at the conference.

Mr McCarthy has clashed with the former president over his behaviour during the Capitol riots, and was said to have sworn at Mr Trump during a phone call as the January 6 attack was unfolding.

Mr McCarthy has attempted to mend relations with Mr Trump since, travelling to his Mar-a-Lago club to discuss the 2022 midterm races and attempting to regain his support.

During his address to CPAC, Mr McCarthy praised Mr Trump's work to win House seats during the 2020 races and predicted Republicans could win back the chamber in next year's election.

"We're going to get the majority back, we're five seats away," he said. "I would bet my house ... my personal house, don't tell my wife but I would bet it."