Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Pompeo Hones His Campaign Message in a Book Tour

While we are on the subject of POTUS wannabes, Mike Pompeo doesn't have an obedient state legislature to help him, but he's not standing still either. He wrote a book and has been traveling around the country flogging it, meeting voters, and figuring out what they want to hear so he can tell that to them. He is very much in full campaign mode.

Pompeo has a long C.V.: a manager at a Baskin-Robbins store, Army officer, aerospace entrepreneur, Kansas congressman, director of the CIA, and secretary of state. But he wants to add one more item: 47th president of the United States.

David Urban, a Republican strategist who went to West Point with Pompeo, said: "It's important for each of these individual candidates to be able to craft a compelling narrative based upon their the life story that American people get excited about. It's a wide span of folks you're going to need to appeal to and how you how that narrative is crafted and how you choose to present yourself is pretty important if you want to try to capture the widest swath possible." In other words, campaigning is all about manufacturing your image, and that is what Pompeo is working on now."

Donald Trump's image is Mr. Anti-Establishment. Ron DeSantis' image is Mr. Anti-Woke. Pompeo is trying on Mr. Tough Guy for size, to see how it fits. His book is called Never Give an Inch and it talks all about his competitive nature and his fixation on winning. He loves the quotation attributed to many people "Winning isn't the best thing. It is the only thing." If winning is defined as polling above 0.5% (so it doesn't round to 0), he's winning. In recent polls he is at 1%.

Liz Mair, a Republican strategist who has worked on many failed presidential campaigns before (e.g., Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina) is not so optimistic about Pompeo. She said of him: "I don't know what the market is for this. I can't I can't ascertain one within the Republican primary electorate, or at least not one that gets above 1%."

Pompeo has visited all the early states, trying to drum up support, endorsements, and donors. One problem he will have is that in South Carolina, he will have to compete with former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Making it worse in South Carolina is that his strength, foreign policy, is also her strength. This puts extra pressure on him to do well in Iowa and New Hampshire. But in New Hampshire, he may have to compete with Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH). This means he has to make a huge splash in Iowa to get any traction. As far as funding goes, Charles Koch could provide nearly limitless money, but will do that only if he thinks Pompeo can win the nomination.

And against Trump, Pompeo's strength in foreign policy could be neutered in an instant when Trump yells: "Who cares about foreign policy? I'm for America First." Nevertheless, Pompeo is probably as qualified, if not more so, than any of the others in the mix. After all, do you know how tough it is to keep a Baskin-Robbins running smoothly? Now all he has to do is convince the voters. (V)

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