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Pompeo endorses ‘old friend’ McKinley

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo embraced U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., on Wednesday before Pompeo’s speech at the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch With Leaders. (Photo by Derek Redd)

WHEELING — Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is endorsing his “old friend,” U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, for re-election in 2022.

Pompeo’s words in favor of McKinley, R-W.Va., came following his keynote speech at the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch With Leaders on Wednesday at Wheeling Park’s White Palace.

Pompeo’s former boss — former president Donald Trump — has endorsed McKinley’s opponent, Alex Mooney, in the race for the GOP nomination to West Virginia’s new 2nd District U.S. House seat.

The primary election takes place May 10.

“I very much want Congressman McKinley to be re-elected,” Pompeo said. “He has my full support, and I’m here today to make sure the likelihood of that happening is increased. I pray it is so.

“He will serve the people of West Virginia and of Wheeling incredibly well, and, selfishly, I think he will serve the people of America well. He works tirelessly to deliver really good outcomes.”

Pompeo was in Wheeling on Wednesday after being asked to speak at the chamber luncheon by McKinley.

McKinley and Pompeo, R-Kansas, were both first elected to the U.S. House in 2010. They served together on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce until 2017, when Pompeo was first tapped by Trump to be director of the CIA.

Pompeo would be promoted by Trump to U.S. Secretary of State in March 2018.

McKinley said over the years he and Pompeo got to know each other, and even made a Congressional trip to Israel together. He described them both as “proven conservatives” with similar political beliefs.

McKinley said Pompeo was a perfect fit to be both CIA director and secretary of state, as he was both a West Point graduate and a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

“He was deeply engaged in information about what was going on in the world, and about how you should keep your mouth shut sometimes,” McKinley said.

In the early days of the COVID pandemic, McKinley even called Pompeo for assistance to help bring home missionaries from Morgantown who were stranded in Central America.

Or rather it was McKinley’s wife Mary who called Pompeo’s wife Susan to set the plan in motion.

The flights home scheduled for the missionaries had been canceled, and they weren’t sure how they would get home, McKinley explained. The typical contacts that could assist in Washington weren’t available.

“That’s when friendship comes into play,” he said. “Mary contacted Susan, and Susan contacted her husband who happened to be secretary of state.

“We wound up within 48 hours … Mike had a military transport go down and pick up the West Virginia mountaineers who were stuck in Central America while trying to carry on God’s work down there.”

Pompeo, though, was coy about his own future political plans when asked if someday he might want to be president.

“I have big plans,” he said. “I want to go help folks like Congressman McKinley get re-elected in November.

“Only the Lord knows what is next. We’re helping candidates in 2022 get ready, but in the end we’ll have to see what life brings for the Pompeos after the elections this fall.”

He said he is counting on Republicans to retake majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate, as well as to win local offices in this year’s election.

“If we get that right, we’ll find good people to run for president. We’ll have good outcomes,” he said. “We’ll take this nation back.”

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