“I asked him the question the other day. He says he’s absolutely not leaving. I don’t think he’d do that. And he doesn’t want to be lame duck,” said Trump.
The Washington Post reported last month that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) personally courted Pompeo to consider running in a telephone call, according to two people familiar with the conversation. Pompeo later confirmed the discussion.
In the interview with CBS, Trump said, “Well, he may have spoken to him, but I think he loves being secretary of state.”
“Secretary Pompeo is committed to serving the President and protecting the American people as Secretary of State,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in an email Sunday. Palladino did not comment on Trump’s remark about his conversation with Pompeo.
One of the people familiar with Pompeo’s phone call with McConnell said last month that Pompeo had not shut the door on the possibility of a run. In an interview later in January with Fox News Channel, Pompeo did not definitively rule it out.
“Lots of folks have reached out to me and suggested I ought to do that,” said Pompeo. “I have suggested to them that I have a very full plate as secretary of state, and I intend to keep doing this, so long as President Trump will commit to it.
Pressed in that interview on whether he had no intention of getting involved in the Kansas race, Pompeo replied, “Every day I’m trying to make sure that I’m doing what President Trump wants me to do to keep America safe; that’s my singular focus.”
Senate Republican leaders and their allies contend that Pompeo — who represented Kansas in the House before joining the Trump administration — could clear the Republican field in the contest for retiring GOP Sen. Pat Roberts’s seat and spare the party a potentially divisive and costly primary.
While Kansas has been a reliably red state in statewide federal races, Democrats have made recent inroads there in state politics, most notably with a victory in the 2018 governor’s race.
The GOP faces a more difficult nationwide Senate map in 2020 than the party did in 2018. Senate Republicans are defending 22 seats. Democrats are defending 12.