RNC Pressuring Vulnerable Senate Dems to Confirm Pompeo at State Dept.

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo / Getty Images
• April 12, 2018 9:56 am


The Republican National Committee is pressuring Senate Democrats from states that Donald Trump won in the 2016 election to confirm the president's nominee to run the State Department.

Trump tapped his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to be secretary of state after he fired Rex Tillerson last month, and the Republican Party has started a pressure campaign to get Democrats to back him, Politico reports.

That campaign includes plans to have surrogates appear on TV and radio in red states where incumbent moderate Democrats previously backed Pompeo to lead the CIA. The RNC has given surrogates talking points that highlight Democrats' past praise for Pompeo.

RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said Pompeo is well-qualified and gives Democratic senators an opportunity to rise above partisan divisions.

"Last year, 66 U.S. senators, including 14 Democrats, voted to confirm him as director of the CIA," Ahrens told Politico. "Democratic senators should do the right thing, set aside party politics, and send a message to our adversaries around the world that we have strong leadership running the State Department."

Fourteen Democrats voted last year to confirm Pompeo to head the CIA. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) praised Pompeo's "distinguished career in public service."

"Director Pompeo has had a distinguished career in public service and I believe he will provide wise counsel and objective advice to President Trump on our nation's security," Manchin said at the time.

Other Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), voted in January 2017 to confirm Pompeo to be CIA chief. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) also voted for him and said he pledged to stay "above partisan politics."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) did not vote in Pompeo's CIA confirmation hearing, but he did express "worry" that Pompeo, along with new White House national security adviser John Bolton, would give Trump too many military options.

"A lot of us are worried about the combination of Pompeo and Bolton putting a set of military options on the table for the president," Murphy said. "It could do real damage to our national security."

Pompeo will need at least some Democratic support to be confirmed, because at least one of the Senate's 51 Republican members, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, plans to oppose his nomination.

Pompeo's confirmation hearing is set to begin at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday. The former Republican congressman made a statement promising to work with Congress to achieve America's diplomatic goals if he is confirmed to lead the State Department.

"I pledge to work with each of you to strengthen our State Department, to champion the patriots who serve there, and to deliver on our shared diplomatic objectives—on behalf of every American," Pompeo said.