Pompeo says Afghanistan ‘will be on people’s minds’ in 2022 midterms

But former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thinks the tumultuous U.S. exit from Afghanistan this month will remain a top issue in next year’s midterm elections, when Republicans aim to recapture majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“I don’t think about it from a political perspective. Having said that I hope this is an issue that people will consider,” Pompeo said Tuesday in a Fox News interview during a swing through the key battleground state of New Hampshire.

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“I hope people will consider who they are voting for, how they will think about a problem set like this, are they supportive of a president who created a debacle that resulted in what we’ve seen these past few weeks,” Pompeo charged. “I think this will be on people’s minds and I hope that they factor this in and they will think about who it that ought to be elected, whether it’s to the Congress, to the school board, or the United States Senate.”

Pompeo, an Army veteran and former congressman from Kansas who served as CIA director and then America’s top diplomat under then-President Trump, has been very vocal in his criticism of President Biden‘s handling of the situation in Afghanistan. He’s part of a chorus of criticism from Republicans and some Democrats who’ve pilloried the president for failing to prepare for the lighting fast takeover of the war-torn Central Asian country by repressive Taliban forces.

The U.S. has airlifted more than 120,000 people, including more than 5,500 Americans, since the Taliban captured Kabul – Afghanistan’s capital and largest city – two and a half weeks ago. Amid the evacuation, ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, launched an attack last Thursday on Kabul’s international airport which left 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians dead.

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But Pompeo’s also taken some incoming fire, from Democrats and even some Republicans, for the deal he struck as secretary of state in February of last year with the Taliban that called for all U.S. troops to depart Afghanistan by May 2021. Trump, during his watch, reduced U.S. forces to their lowest level in Afghanistan in two decades. And last year the Afghan government released thousands of Taliban prisoners, many of whom likely once again took up arms against the U.S.-backed forces.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sits down for an interview with Fox News during a stop in New Hampshire, on August 31, 2021 in Manchester, N.H.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sits down for an interview with Fox News during a stop in New Hampshire, on August 31, 2021 in Manchester, N.H. (Fox News)

Pompeo responded that “our deadline was conditions based. We never set a date. We said we’ll be out by May, so long as these series of conditions are met. They were never met. They might have been met by May, I suppose. More likely it would have taken us more time to get ultimately to those conditions. But we didn’t set a date certain. We didn’t set a date certain for ourselves.” 

And criticizing Biden and his foreign policy team for sticking with this week’s deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, Pompeo argued that “this administration chose to ignore what we had done, ignore the conditions based deal that we had struck and choose to pick a date certain that was a big mistake.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST FOX NEWS REPORTING ON AFGHANISTAN

The former secretary of state also shared with Fox News that in recent weeks, he’s been making a lot of calls, “trying to figure how to get out not only Americans but folks who helped the Americans, folks we made promises to, to get them out. So the last few weeks I’ve been doing the things I can as a private citizen to try and help these folks find a way, find a way into the system. Now that we’ve departed try to have to find alternate means to make sure we get every American home. It’s absolutely essential that we do so.”

Turning to politics, Pompeo said his current mission is to help fellow Republicans running for office this year and in next year’s midterms. Earlier this year he launched a political organization, the Champion American Values PAC, or CAVPAC. And he’s been crisscrossing the country as part of his political efforts.

“We need leaders with a conservative understanding of America,” Pompeo, a Fox News contributor, emphasized. “That’s why I’m here in New Hampshire today….I’m going to be working on behalf of Republican candidates who share my conservative belief system, try to help them have the resources, talent, organization and oomph they need to be successful in November of 2022.”

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Pompeo headlined an event in nearby Bedford for a Republican candidate running in an upcoming special legislative election, before teaming up later in the day in Concord for an event with former Education Secy. Betsy DeVos to highlight the new school choice program in New Hampshire that was passed by the GOP dominated state legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

But Pompeo’s jam-packed one day swing in the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the race for the White House is naturally sparking more speculation about his potential national ambitions in 2024. Pompeo’s flirted with a possible White House run and pundits see him as a potential contender for the GOP presidential nomination, especially if Trump doesn’t follow through on his flirtations and run again in 2024.

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Pompeo’s trip to New Hampshire comes after he’s already made two stops this year in Iowa, whose caucuses kick off the nominating calendar, and one in South Carolina, which votes third in the GOP primaries and caucuses.

While in New Hampshire, Pompeo met privately with a group of influential Republican activists and leaders before headlining a state party luncheon. 

Asked about 2024, Pompeo told Fox News that he’s working “really hard between now and November of next year. And then there’ll be some decisions that everyone has to make, including myself and my wife. And we’ll do that on the right timetable.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headlines an event for a GOP candidate running in a special legislative election, in Bedford N.H. on August 31, 2021

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headlines an event for a GOP candidate running in a special legislative election, in Bedford N.H. on August 31, 2021

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