WASHINGTON – President Trump’s pick for Secretary of State denied Thursday that he’s a war hawk in an effort to win Democratic support for his nomination.
“I know some of you have read, the story is ‘I’m a hawk.’ ‘I’m a hardliner.’ I read that,” Mike Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “There’s no one like someone who has served in uniform who understands the value of diplomacy and the terror and tragedy that is war, like some who served in uniform.”
“It’s the last resort,” Pompeo said. “It must always be so. I intend to work to achieve the president’s policies with diplomacy rather than by sending our young men and women to war.”
With one Republican – Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky – already opposing the nomination, Pompeo needs the help of at least one Democrat to get through the committee.
Pompeo is making an appeal to Democrats who supported his previous nomination for CIA Director. Pompeo even sought the advice for former Secretaries of State, including Hillary Clinton, in preparation for his testimony.
“The best outcomes are always won at the diplomatic table,” Pompeo said.
If confirmed, he would succeed Rex Tillerson just as preparations heat up for a planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the possible bombing of Syria.
Republicans have a one-seat advantage on the Foreign Relations Committee – 11 seats to 10 for Democrats.
With Paul already a “no” vote, Pompeo needs some bipartisan help. Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire voted in favor of his CIA director nomination last year and both serve on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Pompeo was greeted by anti-war protesters who chanted: “No Pompeo. No more war!”
But the nominee described himself as regular, likable guy. He told lawmakers he’s a former Baskin Robbins employee of the month – twice – and can beat his son at Cornhole, a bean bag toss game. He likes his dogs, making his dad’s meatballs and Revolutionary War history.
Before his work as CIA Director, Pompeo was a member of Congress. He graduated from West Point and served as a captain in the US Army. He later earned a law degree from Harvard and had a business career in Kansas.
Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina and former Sen. Bob Dole introduced Pompeo and urged the committee to take swiftly confirm him.
“He’s ready to go,” Dole said. “…He is needed by the president and the rest of us who live in this wonderful country.”