Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo created a Political Action Committee (PAC) called the “Champion American Values PAC (CAVPAC)”. The former congressman of Kansas said to the Washington Examiner that CAVPAC will support GOP candidates across the nation in an effort to take back Congress in 2022. As Pompeo creates a new PAC, many are starting to wonder if he is laying the groundwork to run for president in 2024.
The short-term objective of the newly created CAVPAC is to help, through financial contributions, fellow Republicans for the incoming 2022 midterm election. However, it would be very naive for anybody to not consider the move as Pompeo’s latest move as a careful strategy aiming at raising his national profile and establish a national structure from which he could potentially launch a run for the Republican nomination in three years.
Pompeo’s schedule and media presence has left many clues that would confirm this theory, besides talking to the Examiner he also gave an interview to Politico highlighting the tasks of his new PAC. Besides talking to various media outlets, the former Secretary of State has a packed agenda, with him planning to address the Republican National Committee summer donor retreat, the FAMILY leadership summit (in Iowa), and many other appearances in key conservative groups and organizations.
Although has not actively downplayed his possible presidential bid, he is currently giving all of his efforts to the Republican effort to gain Congress back in the midterm elections, saying to the Examiner “This isn’t about my 2024 race, not remotely. This is about doing all (…) to be successful in November of next year”.
The meteoric rise of Mike Pompeo
Pompeo began his national political career in 2011 when he was elected as a Representative for Kansas’ 4th district. Pompeo, as much of the political establishment of the Republican Party, had a changing relationship with former President Trump, going from a loud opponent in 2016 to serving under his cabinet for almost three years.
In 2016, when Trump was still a primary candidate and the race was far from over, Pompeo endorsed Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in his eventually unsuccessful bid for the presidency, while he also compared then-candidate Trump with former President Obama, saying that “we’ve spent seven-and-a-half years with an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution. We don’t need four more years of that”.
Although many might try to criticize Pompeo for his changing attitude towards Trump, it is not uncommon for bitter primary opponents to become strong political allies once the elections are over. George H.W Bush became Reagan’s trusted VP even after both of them fought bitterly in the 1980 Republican Primary and, more recently, President Biden selected as a running mate a primary rival who strongly attacked his record on race and busing at a Democratic primary debate.
However, it appeared that Trump did not hold any personal grudge against Pompeo once he won the GOP nomination and the presidency in 2016. He nominated the congressman to become CIA director in 2017 (post in which he served for a year) and then he served as the Secretary of State for the Trump administration after the resignation of Rex Tillerson in 2017.
Pompeo served as an active spokesperson for the United States’ international agenda during his years as Secretary of State, heading the administration’s efforts to oust the Maduro regime in Venezuela, openly (and historically) calling China’s atrocities against the Uyghur population a “genocide’, and other issues like Iran, Russia, etc.
His role as a Secretary of State gave him the opportunity to make himself known in the national discussion, as he was the most recognizable face of the Trump administration’s efforts in the international arena. However, if he wants to have a future in national politics, it would be great for Pompeo to go beyond the field of international politics and make himself a known figure among Conservatives.
Pompeo’s challenges for 2024
Assuming that Pompeo wants to run for president in 2024, he’ll have to face two key challenges: make himself a powerful force in national conservative politics and the prospects of Trump also launching a bid for the Republican nomination in 2024.
Pompeo is already doing his best to surpass the first challenge, the PAC he just created plus the busy trip schedule he is planning will hopefully give him both the headlines and the network he needs to be known across the board as a serious contender for the Republican nomination.
However, Pompeo faces stiff competition in order to achieve that. Other possible candidates like Nikki Haley and Mike Pence have already made moves that many consider being in preparation for 2024, with Haley also creating a PAC (Stand for America) and Pence visiting a slew of key states over the last few months.
The last but most important problem for Pompeo is the plans from his former boss, Donald Trump, who remains highly popular within the Republican base despite his 2020 loss and the chaotic Capitol riots of January 6th. If Trump decides to run, it would be very unlikely that any challenge from Pompeo would succeed, which could condemn Pompeo’s chances for at least four more years.
It appears that Pompeo is planning ahead, wanting to capitalize on his meteoric rise and become a national heavyweight in the world of conservative politics, with becoming an effective force for the GOP in 2022 being his first step.
However, this task will be hard. After all, the last former Secretary of State who managed to win a presidential election was James Buchanan, in 1856.