President Trump’s right-hand man paid a visit to Sumter County late Thursday afternoon and quickly found himself among a large group of allies as he addressed a variety of topics.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived at the Sumter County Fairgrounds in Bushnell from Ocala International Airport shortly after 4 p.m. and was met with a resounding round of applause. Fresh off a cross-global trip that included an international conference in Libya and stops in the Caribbean and South and Central America, the former congressman and CIA director focused his speech on foreign policy, including the ever-rising tensions with Iran and Trump’s decision earlier this month to have U.S. military forces execute Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani with a drone strike.
“My mission is really, really simple,” Pompeo said. “It’s to make the world safer so we don’t have to send our young men and women off to fight.”
Pompeo said Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 Americans and the maiming of hundreds more. When he was killed in Baghdad, Soleimani was believed to be plotting even further against America.
That was when the president drew the line in the sand and said Soleimani wasn’t going to take another American life, Pompeo said.
“I was part of that decision-making process and lots could have potentially gone wrong,” he said. “But President Trump made the courageous decision and said we’re going to protect America. We’re going to take a terrorist from the battlefield and reduce the risk here to each and every one of you. We’re going to make America safer – and we did just that.”
Pompeo said he’s also quite proud to be a part of the most pro-Israel presidential administration in history – one that also corrected a wrong that had existed for way too many years.
“We recognized the reality in the Golan Heights and we moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” he said. “We know this is an important relationship – the best democracy in the Middle East.”
Pompeo said he was also thrilled to see a winning trade deal being forged with China.
“President Trump had a simple way of thinking about this, which is ‘This relationship is just not fair,’” he said. “If an American company wanted to go sell their products in China, it was really hard to do. When an American company wanted to go invest in China, it was really difficult to do. But when China wanted to come here, we made it really easy.”
Pompeo said Trump made it a priority to correct the wrong and create a level playing field.
“This is historic and important,” he said. “It will change the lives of our children and our grandchildren.”
As for the atmosphere abroad about the United States, Pompeo said that despite what people might read in the mainstream media and see on national news broadcasts, there are those in other countries who have a true love and respect for everything Americans stand for.
“You see it in Hong Kong, where protesters seeking freedom wave American flags,” he said. “They sing our national anthem.”
Pompeo added that he’s traveled to about 60 countries in the 20 months since becoming secretary of state and has seen well-wishers lining the streets when he arrives.
“Make no mistake about it, the world knows what we stand for,” he said. “They want to have the freedom and the liberty and the democracy that our founders gave to us.”
Pompeo said those in other countries understand that capitalism and socialism are two entirely different things. He recalled his days as an Army officer patrolling the eastern border of Germany in an M1 tank and how things changed so dramatically when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
“Traffic traveled one way. It traveled toward freedom,” he said. “That’s always the case in human history.”