- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2021

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Five months after leaving office, former Secretary of State — and potential 2024 GOP presidential hopeful — Mike Pompeo Thursday asked hundreds of Christian broadcasters to pray that he is in “the right place for me to be able to listen to the Lord, to surrender myself to the Lord, so that I can listen well.”

Mr. Pompeo, who served for all four years of the Trump administration — first as CIA director before moving to Foggy Bottom — drew multiple rounds of applause and three standing ovations from the morning crowd at the National Religious Broadcasters convention. The group’s CEO, Troy Miller, presented Mr. Pompeo with the NRB’s “President’s Award” for efforts to promote religious freedom worldwide.

A Sunday School teacher and evangelical Christian who represented the Wichita, Kansas, area in Congress for six years, Mr. Pompeo is widely believed to be positioning himself for a potential 2024 White House run, particularly if former President Trump does not run.

Future political plans were not on the agenda as Mr. Pompeo conversed onstage with Jewish-Evangelical author Joel C. Rosenberg, who features the former secretary in a forthcoming book, “Enemies & Allies,” due in September.

“You’re the first chapter” of the book, Mr. Rosenberg said. “You’re placed in so many of the chapters, because you played a consequential role” in the Middle East,” he added.

Mr. Pompeo said the Trump administration’s breakthroughs in the region, including the “Abraham Accords” establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and four Arab nations, stem from its success in defeating the Islamic State.

“Do you recall this begins with the crushing defeat we gave to ISIS?” Mr. Pompeo asked. “So among the first things that we did was to take down this threat to the United States that came from radical Islamic terrorism. They had a territory roughly the size of Delaware, and we eliminated it.”

The former diplomat was less sanguine about the Biden administration’s approach to Iran, however, including efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal President Trump repudiated.

“They are sitting in Vienna, if not today, [then] next week, working with the Iranian regime to create a pathway for Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Pompeo said. “… That is absolutely staggering. It’s bad for our friend and ally, Israel, it’s bad for the Gulf states, and it’s really bad for the United States as well.”

The Trump administration’s sanctions, he argued, left Iran “more isolated when we left office than they had ever been in their history” and suggested regime change was the only lasting solution to the problems posed by Tehran.

“The Iranian people,” he added, “are a glorious, wonderful [people]. If you studied Persia at all, you know these are really good people. And they’re being ruled over by an elite revolutionary class that has destroyed not only them, but puts real risks in the region as well.”

The former Trump official said he was constantly asked how he stayed in Mr. Trump‘s administration when so many in the national security area seemed to come and go.

“It was easy for me; I knew my place,” he said. “I knew I worked for him. My mission was unambiguously clear: Go out and make the world safer for the United States of America.”

As to reports he‘d contemplated resignation, Mr. Pompeo asserted it “never occurred to me because I knew two things. One, as a Christian believer, I believe that the Lord had given me this incredible opportunity. And I was going to do my best every day not to screw it up. … The second [was] I knew I was on this important mission.”

Mr. Pompeo offered no direct hints at his political future, but told the NRB audience, “I’m gonna stay in this important fight that we are all in for the soul of our country.”

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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