8 min read

Mike Pompeo slams Biden in NH speech as 'woke, weak and waffling'

The former CIA director and secretary of state sketched out what could become his core political argument.
Mike Pompeo slams Biden in NH speech as 'woke, weak and waffling'
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2021 Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida. (Gage Skidmore | CC BY-SA 2.0
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A notably thinner former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech Tuesday morning at a "Politics & Eggs" event in Manchester, making a traditional pitstop for future presidential candidates testing the Granite State waters.

Aside from acknowledging his own weight loss and his possible future candidacy, Pompeo delivered a pointed rebuke of President Joe Biden's administration, sketching out a line of political criticism that might become his central argument for why voters should pick him over Biden in 2024.

Pompeo, 58, served as CIA director then secretary of state under former President Donald Trump, who may himself run for election again in 2024. WMUR published the full video from Pompeo's comments. Here are highlights from what has been reported:

  • Pompeo says more must be done to control the southern border. He bristled at questions about Republican governors sending migrants from the southern border to places like Martha's Vineyard and Washington, D.C., arguing that Biden has "moved more immigrants around this country" than FL Gov. Ron DeSantis ever will. "I'm worried about the 50 who came across last hour," he said. (Adam Sexton for WMUR)
  • Pompeo calls border-crossing fentanyl an act of war. "When he took questions, audience members asked Pompeo about the flow of fentanyl that has fed a surge in opioid overdoses in New Hampshire and across the country, with one saying, 'It seems almost like an act of war.' Pompeo replied, 'I’m not sure I’d use the word "almost." ' " (Michael Graham for NHJournal)
  • Pompeo criticizes Biden's recent speech as divisive. "He smeared half the country," Pompeo said. "He called fellow Americans semi-fascists. He called us a threat to the soul and foundations of our republic." Pompeo also said teaching kids that "there is an oppressor class and an oppressed class" and that "our nation was founded on a racist idea" are "corrosive" ideas that dissuade people from "valuing democracy." (Josh Rogers for NHPR)
  • Pompeo blames Biden for invasion of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin directed Russian troops to invade Ukraine in response to Biden's withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, Pompeo said, calling the president's policies "woke, weak and waffling." Pompeo said he would have become a "former" secretary of state if he had ever publicly contradicted Trump while in office. (Kevin Landrigan for Union Leader)
  • Pompeo "walked a fine line." He voiced support for the Trump administration but also sought to separate himself from some of Trump's controversial actions. When asked about claims that Trump was more divisive than Biden is, Pompeo said, "I think the most divisive president in my lifetime is the one that’s currently serving." (Paul Steinhauser for Fox News)

More presidential hopefuls on their way

Nikki Haley to campaign in NH this week. The former SC governor and UN ambassador will support Gov. Chris Sununu and U.S. Senate nominee Don Bolduc, the top two Republicans on the ballot. "Haley will team up with Sununu on the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Thursday evening, and she’ll join Bolduc for events on Friday." Haley could be a GOP presidential hopeful in 2024. (Paul Steinhauser for Fox News)

Ted Cruz plans major 2022 campaign swing. "Cruz will travel to 17 states to campaign for GOP candidates this fall, including three states — Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — which are home to early contests on the GOP presidential nominating calendar." Cruz will campaign (again) alongside NH01 nominee Karoline Leavitt. (Alex Isenstadt for Politico)

Other possible GOP presidential hopefuls who have visited New Hampshire recently include former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Pence spoke at "Politics & Eggs" in August, and Hogan will do so in October.

Should Sununu be on that #fitn list?

Sununu's name was floated on "The View" as a potential presidential candidate. Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence and special assistant to President Donald Trump, recently joined the show as a conservative host. On Tuesday, Griffin listed a few people she thinks could run as "credible" Republicans in 2024. "We've got some [candidates] if they're willing to challenge Trump," she said. "I'd love to see Nikki Haley, I'd love to see Liz Cheney. I'd love to see Chris Sununu." (Claire Spellberg Lustig for Primetimer; ABC's "The View")

Gubernatorial candidates disagree on education funding. During a forum on disability policy, Sununu and Democratic challenger Dr. Tom Sherman spoke in separate interviews about the state's Education Freedom Accounts and other topics. Sherman said he disagrees with the very idea of using EFAs to send public education funds to private and religious schools. Sununu pushed back. "Do you see schools standing up and saying this program is bankrupting us? ... Nope," Sununu said. (Paula Tracy for InDepthNH; see also Kevin Landrigan for Union Leader, and WMUR)

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Counting and recounting

Challenger concedes Belknap County sheriff race after recount. Mike MacFadzen had requested a recount after initial results showed he lost to incumbent Sheriff Bill Wright by just 152 votes in the GOP primary. "The town we had a concern with was Barnstead. I requested they count that town. They did, the count came in and it was accurate," MacFadzen said. Both MacFadzen and Wright attended the recount at the state archives. (Jon Decker for The Laconia Daily Sun)

NH Secretary of State's Office "looking into" more vote-counting concerns in Windham. "In the end, the final reported results were nearly identical to those reported on election night, with just a couple of votes net difference. So, why the moving-target tally? Town officials struggled to offer a cogent explanation" (Damien Fisher for NHJournal). Note that Windham was one of three sites where an election monitor was appointed to observe the state primary after issues were identified in past elections; the monitor is slated to submit a report to the state within 30 days (Amanda Gokee for NH Bulletin).

Don Bolduc on Maggie Hassan's abortion focus: "Get over it." During an interview with WMUR, the GOP nominee railed against the Democratic incumbent for her focus on abortion rights, instead of the economy and inflation. Her views, he said, "are not consistent with the average Granite Stater." A recent poll found that 58% of NH registered voters oppose the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion. (Adam Sexton for WMUR, poll)

More election-related headlines

Schools and education

Litchfield residents call for resignations over school budget deficit. "Amid calls from residents for the superintendent and board members to resign, Litchfield’s school board voted to withdraw more than $800,000 from two capital reserve funds to cover for a mistaken assumption by the district’s former business administrator." That will exhaust the funds Litchfield has been saving up since 2020 for a new elementary school. (Paul Feely for Union Leader)

More ed-related headlines:

Education Freedom Accounts double after one year
Most of the students taking the EFAs were not previously enrolled in the public school system.
4 things to watch in NH ‘divisive concepts’ lawsuit
Supporters have said the law stops teachers from tailoring lessons against one race or gender. But teachers and public education advocates say it could lead to unfair punishments.

Holocaust memorial event switches to virtual-only format due to high demand. The host had expected about 200 audience members for an in-person event at Keene State College but now expects more than 400 after a surge in registrations. Filmmakers Ken Burns and Sarah Botstein will give a lecture on their film, "The U.S. and the Holocaust." The event will now be a Zoom webinar. (Trisha Nail for Keene Sentinel, Event registration)

What Ken Burns hopes Americans will find in his new Holocaust film
The documentary, which will debut this month on PBS, tells ‘a fuller story’ that includes insight into the U.S. public’s understanding at the time.

Lebanon and NH leaders reach tentative deal toward creation of riverfront park. The plan calls for Lebanon to buy 7 acres of state-owned riverfront property for recreational use. A purchase price has not yet been determined. (Patrick Adrian for Valley News)

Reverberations from Croydon town meeting felt as November election looms. "Croydon’s now-infamous town meeting was more than six months ago. But the organizing effort to overturn the vote" – i.e., to undo an earlier vote that had cut the school budget in half – "didn't end at the special school district meeting in May, when voters moved to fund schools at the level proposed by school administrators. ... 'We understand this wasn't just a one-time battle,' " said parent Meghan Pike. (Josie Albertson-Grove for Union Leader) #nhleg

Temporary shelters to get $5M from NH share of COVID relief funds
The funds, which will be allocated from New Hampshire’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will be split into two tranches.

More headlines:

NH Politics Calendar: What’s happening in the Granite State
Looking to keep tabs on upcoming events related to New Hampshire politics? Look no further.

Have feedback? Contact editor Steven Porter: steven@granitememo.com.