SIOUX CITY — Mike Pompeo promised a crowd of more than 1,500 people gathered Thursday night for the annual Siouxland Chamber of Commerce dinner that they'd see an "unplugged" version of the former secretary of state and CIA director.

During the course of his 17-minute set, which, at times, had the tenor of stump speech, Pompeo, a Republican, told those at the Sioux City Convention Center that they had decency, values and common sense and that some of those core American values had fallen by the wayside in the 20 months since he and his former boss, President Donald Trump, were in office.

"I think here in America, we are less secure," he said of leadership under President Joe Biden though Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, never once mentioned Biden by name in his remarks.

The Chinese Communist Party came up at least three different times with Pompeo saying at one point "This community force in China threatens our very existence here. Our way of life. Xi Jinping is determined to change the way we live." In 2021, after he left office, Pompeo was placed under sanctions by China. In March of this year, he traveled to Taiwan (the Republic of China) which is not formally recognized by the United States or a number of other countries as being a wholly separate nation from the People's Republic of China.'

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses questions ranging from Trump's handling of top secret documents, immigration reform and a possible presidential bid among other topics during a press conference Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in advance of his keynote address to the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.

Earlier in the day

Thursday afternoon, Pompeo, who served as CIA director from 2017-18 and secretary of state from 2018-21 under former President Trump, also spoke about threats to America both at home and abroad and shared his take on "American greatness" with a cluster of local media in advance of his scheduled keynote address at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner. He touched on those topics while shying away from questions about a possible run in the 2024 presidential election. 

Classified documents

Asked about his former boss' handling of classified government documents, which FBI agents seized from Trump's Florida home as part of the Department of Justice's ongoing criminal investigation, Pompeo said "no one gets to keep classified documents outside of the appropriate setting."

As for what accountability for mishandling records would look like, Pompeo said it "depends what was there, depends how they were handled and depends on how the conversation had been. But people can make mistakes about classified information and have it some place it shouldn't be."

On the matter of the seizure itself at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Pompeo suggested "there's something more going on" but didn't elaborate.

Presidential run

Trump, who lost re-election to Joe Biden in 2020, has not ruled out making another run for the White House in 2024.

Pompeo didn't have a lot to say on the topic of his own possible bid, though numerous political outlets have talked about him taking steps to run including holding events, within the past month, in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, which have been three of the first four states in the presidential primaries. 

"I'm here in Iowa to speak to a bunch of patriots who are coming to the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce," Pompeo told local reporters. "There's certainly time for that, my wife and I will pray and figure out precisely what we're going to do. There's two things I can assure you: I'm not going to leave the fight. I've been working on the cause of America for 30-plus years now."

In a one-on-one with a Journal reporter, Pompeo said his priority is on helping GOP candidates get across the finish line.

"So the decision about what I'll do next, the place I'll find myself whether that's helping someone run for president or putting myself forward as a candidate, will depend on my judgment about the most effective way to deliver what the American people deserve," he said.

Former Secretary of State/former CIA Director Mike Pompeo addressed a spate of questions from the Journal just before his address to the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022.


Pompeo called the Biden administration's immigration policy "indecent," "immoral" and "dangerous for the United State of America to not protect its sovereignty."

When asked what a moral immigration policy would look like, the former Republican congressman said it would be one where immigrants aren't "encouraged" to "trek across Mexico and have their children raped and their lives destroyed by the cartels." Pompeo then added that the U.S. system should include a protected southern border as well and "lawful migration to our country, not just from Mexico, but from people all across the world."

Just this week, while responding to a question about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sending migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, Pompeo said "I'm mostly worried about the 50 that came across while I was speaking this morning." He repeated a similar line and figure at the Convention Center.

Winding down 

Near the end of his time with the dinner crowd, Pompeo said for all of the threats to America that exist beyond its borders; such as China, Russia and Iran; the greatest threat to the continued prosperity of the country was an internal one.

"If we allow inflation to rage, if we can't put stuff on our store shelves, if we regulate in a way that denies agricultural communities the capacity to be good stewards of their land, then there's an enormous risk to our republic," Pompeo said.

He then told folks to not worry too much about such threats and threw in a joke.

"Thank you for keeping your focus of the central idea of America as an important place and an important country. When we get that right, we'll be fine. We'll push back against the Chinese Communist Party or any other threat, even from the teachers unions."

This story has been updated to include Mike Pompeo's remarks as the keynote speaker and comments he made to a Journal reporter. 

Jared McNett is an online editor and reporter for the Sioux City Journal. You can reach him at 712-293-4234 and follow him on Twitter @TwoHeadedBoy98.

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