U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Wisconsin State Capitol today for a discussion with Wisconsin lawmakers and business leaders. Pompeo’s visit is the latest in a procession of Trump administration appearances in the battleground state.
It’s also the first time a sitting Secretary of State has visited the Wisconsin State Capitol, says Senate President Roger Roth.
“We are honored to have him here. The purpose of the Secretary’s visit today is for a discussion about foreign policy,” Roth said today.
The trip comes as the state has been hammered by both the Trump and Biden campaigns prior to the November election. Pompeo’s discussion, while not technically a campaign stop, was sandwiched between President Trump’s visit to Mosinee last week, a Milwaukee event with Attorney General William Barr yesterday and a stop by Vice President Mike Pence in Eau Claire tomorrow.
Mirroring the national security rhetoric Trump has deployed on the campaign trail, Pompeo told Wisconsin lawmakers to be wary of potential Chinese influence. He says that the Chinese Communist Party, or the CCP, has attempted to influence schools, business associations, local politicians, Chinese groups and even media outlets.
“Every one of us must stand up for our sovereignty and our American values,” Pompeo says. “You have a friend in the Trump administration to help you push back against the CCP’s exploitation of our open society.”
Pompeo also accused the Chinese government of attempting to create civil unrest in several American cities.
“The CCP wants to foment the kind of strife we’ve seen in Minneapolis and Kenosha. That’s disgusting, and we can’t let it happen,” he says.
Pompeo was invited to the capitol by Senate President Roger Roth, of Appleton, after Roth reportedly received a message from a member of the Chicago Chinese consulate in February asking him to introduce a draft resolution to the Wisconsin Legislature supporting China’s approach to the Coronavirus.
After deleting the first email and receiving a second request to introduce the resolution in March, Roth reportedly responded with one word: “Nuts.”
“I want to just take a second to read a few excerpts,” Pompeo said today. “She wrote, ‘Whereas China’s action has been critical to the global fight against the epidemic and China has adapted unprecedented and rigorous measures for disease control and prevention. Whereas China has been transparent and quick in sharing key information about the virus with the World Health Organization and the international community’… I can assure you these are all false.”
Sen. Chris Larson, of Milwaukee, says that Pompeo and the Trump administration are in no position to toss stones at China’s response to the virus.
“There’s a term called projection, which is where you’re pointing at somebody else and saying the problem you have yourself,” Larson says.
Larson says that Pompeo’s stop in Madison is a “barely veiled” campaign event for the President.
“You had legislators show up who haven’t shown up to work for six-months, but came to a Republican-only infomercial with a Trump administration official.”
In an administration known for its high turnover rate, Pompeo could be considered a hardened veteran. He’s held his position at the State Department since 2018, prior to which he served as the Director of the CIA.