Ex-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says not running for president

Former head of CIA opts out of competing against Trump, but leaves door open on future run; counts Abraham Accords among his proudest achievements

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, March 3, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, March 3, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

AP — Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday he will not enter the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

In an interview with Fox News, the devoted ally and defender of Donald Trump opted out of a contest that would have put him into competition with his former commander-in-chief.

“The time is not right for me and my family,” Pompeo said in a statement later posted to Twitter. “At each stage of my public service — as a soldier, as a member of the US House of Representatives, and then as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and as your Secretary of State — I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to advance America in a way that fit the time and the moment. This is not that time or that moment for me to seek elected office again.”

Pompeo seemed to leave the door open on a future run.

“To those of you this announcement disappoints, my apologies,” Pompeo said. “And to those of you this thrilled, know that I’m 59 years old. There remain many more opportunities for which the timing might be more fitting as presidential leadership becomes even more necessary.”

Pompeo would have been the second former Trump Cabinet member to enter the race to challenge the former president for the 2024 GOP nomination, joining former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who announced her campaign in February. Former US vice president Mike Pence is also considering entering the race and has stepped up his travel and activity in early-voting primary and caucus states.

US President Donald Trump talks on the phone with the leaders of Sudan and Israel, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, applaud in the Oval Office, October 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In addition, biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have also announced campaigns. US Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has launched a presidential exploratory committee as he considers his own bid.

US President Joe Biden has indicated he will seek reelection, tamping down any major challenges for the Democratic nomination.

Where Haley and Pence have openly expressed differences with Trump, Pompeo has had no public split with Trump and hasn’t been rebuked by the former president, as many of his would-be rivals have. Pompeo recently referred to Trump as a “great boss.”

The former congressman graduated at the top of his class from the US Military Academy in 1986 before spending five years on active duty, deployed for a time as a cavalry officer commanding tank movements along the border between NATO-backed Western Europe and Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe.

The retired Army captain is a Harvard-educated lawyer who practiced law in Washington and founded two Wichita businesses — an aerospace firm and later a petroleum equipment manufacturer — before entering politics.

Pompeo — a witty and sometimes gruff politician — easily won four consecutive terms in the US House representing southern Kansas. He sat on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as the select committee investigating the deadly 2012 attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Pompeo counts as among his proudest moments the 2020 Abraham Accords, declarations of support for peaceful relations among Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. He also points to the imposition of tariffs on China, direct talks with North Korea and the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement as pillars of Trump’s “America First” theme he helped erect.

The 2018 withdrawal from the Iran deal and imposition of crippling sanctions have prompted death threats against Pompeo, who remains under 24-hour security protection provided by the State Department.

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