As Republicans continue their campaign surge in Georgia in the prelude to the January Senate runoffs, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will reportedly also be making an appearance in the state. According to Axios, he’s scheduled to deliver a foreign policy speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. With Democrat heavy-hitters like Barack Obama and Stacey Abrams revving up support for candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, chances are high that Pompeo will use his visit to endorse Republican candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue—a move that would be atypical for a normal secretary of State, but one that fits in neatly with Pompeo’s political ambitions.
Having spent the last two years as one of Donald Trump’s alternative-facts mouthpieces, Pompeo is now widely believed to be eyeing an elected position. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Pompeo supporters have viewed his final weeks in the Trump administration as an opportunity to leverage his “national and international stature for a future run for governor, U.S. senator or, one day, president or vice President.” His overt fealty to Trump has largely been viewed as a bid to lock down the president’s base, including his reference in November to a “second Trump administration” in the aftermath of the election. As my colleague Abigail Tracy noted, he seems to have made the calculation that Trump’s hold over the Republican party will outlast his time as its leader. “The Republican Party is Trump’s party right now,” Kansas Republican National Committeeman Mark Kahrs told the Journal, “and I think, of all of Trump’s inner circle, Mike carries that banner, carries the mantle as the successor to Trump.”
However, Trump himself may throw a wrench in Pompeo’s plans. The president has not ruled out a 2024 bid, and multiple reports have raised the possibility that he will announce his run the day of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. This will inevitably complicate the ambitions of several high-profile Republican members who are also believed to be eyeing a slot in 2024, including Senators Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Tom Cotton, all of whom have made stops in Georgia in recent weeks. According to recent reports, the timing of Trump’s hypothetical announcement would be intended to freeze potential opponents in their tracks.
Georgia would not be the first time a Pompeo event has had the appearance of campaigning. The secretary of State came under fire for delivering a speech at the Republican National Convention.(“It convinces all those abroad who watch us, friend or foe, that the secretary of state is first and foremost a politician, not our nation’s top diplomat,” a former high-ranking State Department official told Tracy at the time.) That speech, delivered from Israel, is now under investigation for potentially breaking federal law. More importantly, the RNC speech—not to mention Pompeo’s plan to speak in Georgia—seemingly cement the notion that his end game has always been a political career.
— Mary Trump Thinks Her Uncle’s Postpresidency Woes Are Just Beginning— There’s a Wave of COVID Patients Who Don’t Believe It’s Real— Doug Band: Confessions of a Clintonworld Exile— Will Rupert Murdoch Spring for a Postpresidential Fox Gig?— Ivanka Desperately Tries to Rehab Her Image on Her Way Out— After Remaking CNN and Antagonizing Trump, Jeff Zucker Eyes the Exits— With COVID Vaccines Approaching, Is the FDA Ready to Inspect Where They’re Made?— From the Archive: Probing the Nightmare Reality of Randy Quaid and His Wife, Evi— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.