If there was ever any doubt of Mike Pompeo’s political ambitions, the former secretary of state put them to rest on Friday by becoming the first big-name Republican to meet with voters in Iowa this year and lay the groundwork for a possible presidential campaign.
Speaking near Des Moines in Urbandale, Iowa, Mr. Pompeo largely cast his remarks to the Westside Conservative Club as an effort to win a Republican majority in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. But his breakfast speech was tinged with references to the presidential campaign in 2024 — a race that Mr. Pompeo has never denied eyeing.
“These elections in 2022 will have a real impact on how 2024 ultimately goes as well, and it’s why I’m out here today,” Mr. Pompeo told the small crowd, according to Fox News. “It’s why I’m going to continue to go out and campaign.”
“If we get 2022 right, 2024 will solve itself,” Mr. Pompeo said.
The former top diplomat — who also served as C.I.A. director to former President Donald J. Trump before becoming secretary of state in 2018 — is also scheduled to speak to Republicans in New Hampshire on Monday on a video call to a fund-raiser for a state House candidate.
Iowa and New Hampshire have been the first two states to cast votes in presidential campaigns in recent election cycles. Mr. Pompeo said he is also helping Republicans in Texas, Nebraska and Alabama.
While at the State Department, Mr. Pompeo made little secret of his political aspirations.
He was the first sitting secretary of state in modern history to address a party’s national convention, a platform he used to introduce himself to a domestic audience while on a taxpayer-funded diplomatic visit to Jerusalem last August. He also hosted about two dozen dinners at the department, over a two-year period, for foreign policy discussions with American business leaders and political conservatives whose support would be crucial in future campaigns.
In the two months since leaving office, Mr. Pompeo has repeatedly criticized the Biden administration’s policies on a range of topics, including China, immigration and aid to Palestinians. (He has, however, steered clear of directly criticizing his successor, Antony J. Blinken, the current secretary of state.) Mr. Pompeo has also taken aim at social issues, like transgender athletes and the so-called cancel culture movement, to firmly establish his conservative bona fides.
He has adopted Mr. Trump’s mantra of “America First” and on Friday told the breakfast crowd in Iowa that “America will be the country that comes out in a way that delivers good outcomes for our people and for people all across the world — and it’ll be because of all the good work that we all do.”
Curiously, in a Fox News interview earlier this week, Mr. Trump did not mention his former secretary of state while enumerating the Republicans he thinks are the future of the party.