Several vulnerable Democrat Senators who voted in to confirm Mike Pompeo as Director of the CIA last year – including Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), have to date been notably quiet on whether they’ll similarly vote confirm him as Secretary of State, despite persistent claims of bipartisanship. A quick look at Pompeo’s experience and the broad spectrum of support he’s received so far show he deserves bipartisan support.
From his time at West Point to his tenure at the CIA, Pompeo has a long, admirable record of service that has drawn praise from across the political spectrum. When nominated to serve as Director of the CIA, Pompeo earned the votes of Republicans and Democrats alike, including even Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Fellow former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said that she believes Pompeo understand “the value of diplomacy and the importance of the State Department.” Albright went on to describe on how Pompeo’s experience as Director of the CIA would be an asset as Secretary of State:
“I do think there needs to be a lot of preparation. So that’s my issue. And again, Pompeo seems to think that it’s an important point. He does have information, having come from his last job. So — but diplomacy is essential. Preparation for diplomacy is essential. Diplomats are essential for diplomacy.”
Albright is not the only former Democratic Secretary of State to be encouraged by his recent confirmation hearing. Pompeo’s pledge to fill vacancies and improve morale at the State Department earned him praise from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as a bipartisan group of former senior government officials who served in both the Obama and Bush administrations.
Confirmation votes for the State Department used to transcend partisan politics, with John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell each being confirmed with 85 votes or more in the Senate. Even the left-leaning Washington Post editorial board recognizes this, calling for Pompeo’s confirmation, writing:
“Rejecting or delaying his nomination, as Mr. Trump juggles multiple crises without adequate counsel, probably would make an already parlous situation worse. Mr. Pompeo should be deployed to Foggy Bottom in the hope that he will fulfill his promise to revive and reassert U.S. diplomacy.”
So the key question for vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 is whether they stand with the liberal national Democrats opposing the well-qualified Pompeo or if they represent their states, which for McCaskill, Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp, voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in November.
This is a test of whether, for example, the campaign pitch McCaskill gave in January:
“I’ve gotta make sure I’m listening to Missouri, and working for Missouri. And what Missourians want – the people who will decide that election – they want us to get stuff done. They want us to quit having political food fights and get stuff done.”