CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be a “positive agent for change” as secretary of state, more than 100 conservative leaders say in a memo supporting his nomination by President Donald Trump.
The memo from the Conservative Action Project applauds Trump’s selection of Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson at the State Department as a positive move for the president’s agenda.
Pompeo, a former three-term Republican congressman from Kansas, would be a “valuable asset to President Trump in imparting his agenda at home and abroad,” the conservative leaders say. “We support his nomination and urge his swift [Senate] confirmation.”
The Conservative Action Project released the memo Monday with 103 signatures, including Alfred Regnery, the group’s chairman; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Kenneth Blackwell, former ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; and Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America.
Others who signed are former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, the Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation; Becky Norton Dunlop, Heritage’s Reagan distinguished fellow; and Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America, the conservative think tank’s lobbying arm.
“Pompeo’s vast experience across multiple levels of government have demonstrated his commitment to protecting America’s interests, and make him uniquely qualified to lead the State Department through complex and challenging times,” the authors of the memo write.
As CIA director since three days after Trump’s inauguration, the leaders say, Pompeo “gained the trust of career officials through competent and able management.”
Trump picked Pompeo to replace Tillerson, with whom he disagreed on foreign policy challenges ranging from Iran to North Korea, on March 13.
While president-elect, Trump chose Pompeo to head the Central Intelligence Agency shortly after he won the White House in November 2016. Voters in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District elected Pompeo in 2010 and re-elected him twice.
“As a former congressman, Pompeo has first-hand knowledge of the legislative process and congressional relationships, which will be an essential resource to the president,” the conservative leaders said in the memo.
Also noting the West Point graduate’s Army service, they described him as having “a unique perspective to the challenges facing our diplomatic corps around the world.”
Pompeo had strong conservative credentials in Congress, and the leaders point to his “strong principles,” such as his “regard for the sanctity of life, the solidarity of the family, and the solemnity of marriage.”
Such characteristics, they wrote, could be key factors in “rebuilding a State Department that, under President [Barack] Obama, actively pushed a radical social policy around the world.”
The leaders point to Pompeo’s role in negotiations with North Korea and his promotion of an “assertive” policy against Russia’s efforts to undermine Western democracies. They said he brings a “critical eye” to discussions surrounding the nuclear deal with Iran.
Not all Senate Republicans support Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of state.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a critic of Pompeo, has said he will oppose the nomination, complicating Pompeo’s path to the State Department since Republicans hold only 51 of the 100 Senate seats.
He will “do everything I can to block” Pompeo’s confirmation, Paul said in a statement to the press March 14.
Paul was the only Republican to vote against Pompeo as CIA director last year, when the Senate confirmed him, 66-32.
“I’m perplexed by the nomination of people who love the Iraq War so much that they would advocate for a war with Iran next. I think it goes against most of the things President Trump campaigned on,” Paul said.