Secretary Mike Pompeo returns home to Kansas as farmers await China deal

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Overland Park, Kansas will be the hub of entrepreneurship this week. Leaders from the public and private sector will participate in The Road to Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) Heartland USA conference beginning Monday. Innovation in agriculture, health, and other issues will be discussed. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is returning to his home state and delivering the keynote speech for the event.

“We’ll talk about freedom and entrepreneurism and innovation and how it matters and try and help them understand the opportunities they have all around the world to make and sell their products,” said Secretary Pompeo.

Secretary Pompeo delivers his address on March 18, months before he attends the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, in early June. The United States is co-hosting GES 2019 with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

As the Secretary of State heads home, farmers in his state are waiting for a new trade deal with China as negotiations between Washington and Beijing continue. Pompeo says the two countries are making progress. He says he wants airplanes made in Kansas and Kansas wheat to be sent to China in a fair, reciprocal manner. Farmers across the U.S. have struggled because of the trade disputes.

“Sometimes in the short run it’s a little bit difficult. Farmers are smarter than that. They understand that the trade war didn’t get started by President Trump. The trade war was started by China,” said Pompeo.

The Secretary of State says he rarely returns to Kansas since assuming his new post. The West Point graduate co-founded the Kansas-based Thayer Aerospace, an aircraft machinery manufacturer. He represented the Kansas Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House for three terms before President Trump tapped him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency following the 2016 election. After more than a year at the CIA, President Trump picked Pompeo to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, adding to Pompeo’s rapid political rise.

“I hope it’s a little bit because of hard work. My willingness to engage and be part of teams, (to) build out organizations,” said Pompeo.

Pompeo now delivers President Trump’s diplomatic vision overseas. The president often takes to Twitter to praise friends and call out foes. On occasion, those on the receiving end of his critical tweets are other world leaders.

“What I think we have done well in this administration is we’ve spoken the truth,” said Pompeo. “Sometimes diplomats want to be nice where nice isn’t called for. Sometimes diplomats want to make friends where making friends isn’t called for. There’s a place. There’s a place for each of those things.”

Pompeo remains guarded about his future. When Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) announced he will not seek re-election in 2020, speculation ran wild about his potential replacement. Secretary Pompeo’s name was thrown into the hat of conjecture. He speaks fondly about his state and his time representing it on Capitol Hill, but he says he is not considering a Senate run as long as the president wants Pompeo to serve the administration.

“I’m loving what I’m doing. I serve at the pleasure of President Trump. There may come a day when he says, ‘No thanks, I don’t want you to do it anymore,’” said Pompeo. “But I’m optimistic that I keep working hard, and keep delivering for him, I’ll be able to do this. So that’s not something that I’m focused on at this point.”