About 150 folks showed up at the Iowa Machine Shed on Friday morning, with most arriving well before 7 a.m. to hear from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo delivered a strong message that highlighted the success of the Trump administration when it comes to foreign policy as well as border security. He mixed in humor with ease and came across as someone everyone in the room could relate to.
Based on feedback I heard from individuals and what we know about President Donald J. Trump, it seems Iowa Republican voters who are already looking ahead to 2024 have a few criteria in mind when it comes to a potential candidate.
- America First.
- Tackle the tough issues
- Be willing to be critical of the Chinese Communist Party
- Realize the media is not a friend
- Have some humor
- Bring bold, fearless leadership
Those are all credentials put in place based on President Trump’s four years in the White House. And all six will probably need to be checked by the next GOP nominee — assuming it isn’t President Trump himself.
Now that I think about it, a seventh prerequisite will likely be someone who was a staunch ally of President Trump and stood by him through the end.
Perhaps nobody fits that mold better than Pompeo.
Regardless, he came across as someone who is down to earth and knows his stuff on Friday. More importantly, nobody left that room questioning his authenticity.
Bob, a regular attendee of the Westside Conservative Club events, said Pompeo would make an excellent President of the United States.
“I think he has the qualifications for it and if you want to know anything about him, he gave a speech at the Nixon Library in 2020 where he talked about China,” Bob said. “He used that line you heard today — the Reagan paraphrase, distrust but verify. He also said the world won’t be safe until China changes. He understands that. I think that’s where I think this country ought to head.”
Rhonda said she was impressed.
“You never really got to see that more casual side of him,” she said. “He’s witty. And that’s nice. He’s just smart, you can just tell. I really enjoyed it. I almost didn’t come today. I enjoyed this setting. I think he should go for it.”
China was important to Rhonda as well, who asked Pompeo a question.
“He answered it well,” she said. “It’s complicated, so he couldn’t really get into it, but people are worried about China. They’re sneaky. I wanted to say, they’re so damn smart and they don’t care about people. And it’s not the Chinese people, it’s the communist state.”
She loves Trump, but she said he could do more behind the scenes with someone like Pompeo at the front.
“I hope Trump knows that,” she said. “I think he does. I really do.”
Ernie, one of the organizers of the event, said Pompeo made it clear he shared President Trump’s mission of America First.
“And whether or not you like what President Trump did or the way he said it, here’s a man who has the same belief system and can deliver it in a joyful way, leaning on his faith, and without being crass or rough about it,” Ernie said. “He did an exceptional job, he really did. And I think he captured the room with his talk.”
Despite concerns about election integrity, it’s clear Iowa voters aren’t going to quit and give up. Ernie said he doesn’t view concerned conservative Iowa voters as potentially being apathetic come 2024, but undermined the worry people have.
“I don’t think there’s apathy, I do think that there’s concern,” he said. “I think the comments on election integrity are real. When I see a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge in an opinion say even though the legislature said shall I don’t think they meant it was mandatory, I tear my hair out. This is a Clintonian evaluation of what is the meaning of is. And this is from a judge, so we do have problems.”
Pompeo came across as someone who thinks like “the regulars in the group” and articulated it in a nice way.
“That’s very important,” Ernie said. “I think the second thing is we all have concerns — we have concerns about China, we have concerns about their rush for power. HE recognizes that and wants to cover it and say yes, it is real and we need to address that. I think that was well received by the group and I think in general this group has a solid understanding of what the country is supposed to be based on its founding.
“People say I’m a hard-right person, I say, ‘no I’m right in the middle where the founders were.’ What’s happened is the country has shifted. So, I think we saw a man who stands on founding principles. And they are principles of equality, so let’s go after that. This is a group of entrepreneurs, this a group of businesspeople, this is a group of people who have worked hard to get where they are and they deserve what they have and they are willing to help others do the same thing. And that is important as well.”