Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a joke on Monday that may hit a bit close to home as rumors swirl about his political future outside President Donald Trump’s administration.
Pompeo, in his home state of Kansas for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit on Monday, addressed rumors that he may run for Senate after Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2020.
“I’ll be there until he tweets me out of the office,” Pompeo said of his role at the State Department, according to Voice of America’s Nike Ching.
While Pompeo appeared to be joking, he described exactly what happened to his predecessor, Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson, who had no political experience before joining the Trump administration as the nation’s top diplomat, had a rocky tenure as secretary of state, including reports he called Trump a moron.
After NBC reported Tillerson’s supposed quip, Trump challenged him to take an IQ test. Tillerson would later hold a press conference in which he directly described Trump as “smart.”
Six months later, Tillerson was fired via a tweet.
Pompeo, a former senator from Kansas who served as CIA director before taking over the State Department, told The Kansas City Star on Sunday he wouldn’t abandon his post to run for office in 2020 but didn’t rule out future runs.
“I try to just avoid ruling things out when there’s others who are in control,” Pompeo said. “The Lord will get me to the right place.”
Fred Berry, Pompeo’s former campaign cochair, told the paper that Pompeo has strong chances.
“It’s a terrible quandary because he may well be the strongest and most capable cabinet member Trump has,” Berry said, adding, “He won’t be there forever.”
Since taking his post at the State Department, Pompeo has promised to bring the department’s “swagger” back and has taken shots at Tillerson’s isolated leadership style while delivering a refined version of Trump’s “America First” vision to allies.