Former Secretary of State and potential Republican 2024 presidential contender Mike Pompeo on Sunday took a swipe at former President Trump, saying “any conservative president” would “do a better job” managing the national debt and deficit than him.
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” Pompeo was asked whether he would do a better job than Trump managing national debt, prompting him to say, “I think a President Pompeo or any conservative president will do better than not only [what] we did in the four years of the Trump administration, but Barack Obama, George Bush.
“The list is long, Shannon, the folks who come to Washington on one theory and aren’t prepared to stand up and explain to the American people how we’re actually going to get that right,” Pompeo said. “It matters to the next generation. This system is at risk if we don’t get it right. We are $31 trillion in the hole. We’ve got to begin to grow the economy, build it back with lower taxes and when we do that and grow our economy we’ll get it right back right. It’s going to take a true conservative leader.”
Anchor Shannon Bream followed up to ask whether he was suggesting that Trump wasn’t a true conservative leader.
“$6 trillion more in debt. That’s never the right direction for the country, Shannon,” Pompeo said.
Later in the interview, Pompeo was pressed on his comments from Friday during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which many on social media speculated were about Trump.
“We can’t become the left, following celebrity leaders with their own brand of identity politics, those with fragile egos who refuse to acknowledge reality,” Pompeo said.
He defended his comment by saying that he was “talking about the time to elect serious leaders who are thoughtful, who speak about America as the most exceptional nation in the history of civilization.”
“They’re not denigrating it. They’re not throwing out whoppers. They’re not spending all the time thinking about Twitter,” he continued. “That’s what I was speaking to. It’s the moment for celebrity the moment for stars is not with us.”
Bream followed up and said Pompeo was leaving “us with no other assumption in that you are talking about your former boss,” referring to Trump.
“I’m talking about what’s happening in states and county school boards all across America. It is time for a thoughtfulness and a waiting list and a seriousness that I think we’ve kind of moved away from and we got to get back there,” Pompeo said. “It’s not about former President Trump. It’s not about President Biden. It’s about the American people and getting this right.”
Trump told DailyMail.com on Saturday that he doesn’t consider himself a “celebrity leader of the country.”
Pompeo’s comments come as he is considering jumping into the presidential Republican primary. He said he hasn’t made a decision yet, but is discussing a potential announcement with his wife and will most likely make a decision sometime over the “next couple months.”
For the first half of Trump’s presidency, Republicans enjoyed control of both chambers of Congress. During those two years, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump authorized billions in tax cuts and trillions in spending, causing the federal debt to balloon.
Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act alone added a projected $1.8 trillion to the debt, and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 added nearly $450 billion, according to reports by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. By early 2019, the national debt had climbed to $22 trillion, roughly $2 trillion higher than the day Trump took office. The national debt would climb to over $27 trillion before Trump left office amid an unprecedented pandemic that would lead to hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from COVID-19.