QUESTION: Welcome back home, Mike and Susan. How’s it like to be back home in Kansas, even for a little short period of time?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s wonderful to be back in Kansas. Susan lived here all her life; I lived here for the decades before I ran for Congress. It’s great to be around. We had a chance to see some friends. It’s where our church is. It’s where our family is. We love it.
QUESTION: You’re a big Shocker family, so let’s talk a little bit about basketball for just a little bit. How – how do you feel about March Madness? Is that something the household likes to do during March?
MRS POMPEO: Every year, constantly, always. And of course, we wish our Shockers had gotten a home game in the NIT, but we know that they’ll dispose of Furman – sorry to all the Furman grads – and work their way through. We have high hopes for them in the NIT and I’m thrilled that this team who has worked so hard this year is going to get the chance to keep playing, because they’ve earned it.
QUESTION: And all —
SECRETARY POMPEO: We love college basketball.
QUESTION: All three Kansas schools made it. So tell me about just making – advancing.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s great fun. We love college basketball. I told my team during the season don’t schedule anything over a Shocker game. So —
MRS POMPEO: He’s not kidding.
SECRETARY POMPEO: — sometimes it’s 3:00 in the morning somewhere in the world and we’re trying to figure out how to get the game on TV. It’s a lot of fun. It brings a lot of joy into our lives and we – it connects us to our home as well.
QUESTION: Obviously, Dr. Bardo passed away. Any thoughts that you have for the family?
MRS POMPEO: Of course, I – my first thought was with Mrs. Bardo. I know how wonderful their relationship was and I know what a huge gap this will be for her. Dr. Bardo came to the campus with a definite vision, and he executed toward what he saw for the university, and it will be interesting and fun to see how his legacy develops and in what ways.
QUESTION: What have you guys missed most about Kansas? I’ll start with you, Mike.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, boy. So many things. It starts with friends and family; the things that make Wichita so special are its people. We loved being able to pull up to a store and park and to get out and do things on your own. My life is a little different from that now, but one fine day.
MRS POMPEO: Certainly friends. I mean, there’s just – and everybody at home has been so great about staying in touch, but you still miss them. You can’t – all the things you were doing you take for granted. And I think just in Kansas we talk a lot about quality of life, and others come and visit and go away, and they would talk about quality of life. But you really don’t know it till you’re not there. Little ways, like Mike was saying – parking by the front door of places, doing a quick run-in, knowing people everywhere you shop, asking about somebody’s kids. You take that for granted, most certainly. I am so thrilled I grew up and came from a relationship-driven place because larger cities just often inherently are more transactional. They’re very transient places. And so it’s not like a place called Kansas, and I miss it.
QUESTION: How are you guys staying grounded in D.C.?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we stay grounded a number of ways. First is we stay in touch with some folks from Kansas. We’ll drop them notes; they’ll mock me if I don’t look good on a particular trip.
MRS POMPEO: (Laughter.) It’s true.
SECRETARY POMPEO: As friends – as friends ought to do. We also – we read The Wichita Eagle, we read The Kansas City Star, we stay connected. I have a son who’s 28. There’s nothing like that to keep you humble as well. So we haven’t lacked for the ability to stay connected to our roots.
MRS POMPEO: Much the same. I mean, I think friends do that for you. Our friends in Kansas – I was real involved in a Bible study in Congress when Mike was in Congress. I’ve stayed in touch with a handful of those friends and they really do help you wade and weave your way through every day.
QUESTION: What has surprised you the most about being in D.C.?
MRS POMPEO: What has surprised me the most? For all of the excitement and opportunities that are there – and there are – and to be around and among monuments and our country’s founding documents and all these amazing things that as patriots we so honor, it still can be a tough place to establish real relationships. And I feel – I hope if a new person comes to Kansas, comes to Wichita, that isn’t the way – that isn’t their experience. I think it’s not. I hope we were always outgoing and – but it’s just a – it’s just a unique environment and a little bit tougher to form those relationships.
QUESTION: How are you guys transferring those Midwest values to D.C.?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we hope we do in everything we do. The way we live, the way we talk, the way we treat people. I hope that at the State Department they can see that. I probably think about problems a little bit different. There aren’t that many people walking through the front door of the State Department with cowboy boots on. It’s a place that we love and treasure, and I think the team has appreciated this mindset as well. It’s a pretty commonsense mindset.
QUESTION: I want to know how did the two of you meet?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Susan, I’ll let you tell the story.
MRS POMPEO: Why, because you think I tell it wrong? So we met in business.
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s true.
MRS POMPEO: I was a banker. Mike was starting Thayer and he and his business partners were buying a business that was a client of mine. So I was in the deal, helping that transition, helping my client. And that’s how I met Mike.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Twenty years ago now.
MRS POMPEO: And his business partners. Yeah.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah.
QUESTION: Who wears the pants in the Pompeo household?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It depends on the day.
MRS POMPEO: I was going to – and depends on the issue.
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) Depends on the issue.
MRS POMPEO: Totally on the issue.
SECRETARY POMPEO: The person you ought to ask is Nick, our son.
MRS POMPEO: Oh, that’s true. That’s true. He – that’s true, because he does – he knows who to call on whatever request or subject he’s got.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll say – one last thing to say in respect to that. We’ve been great partners in everything that we have done together. When I ran two small businesses in Kansas, Susan helped. When I ran for Congress, it was a team out campaigning, out working, out helping to understand what was going on all across 17 counties in south central Kansas. And then as CIA director, Susan traveled with me to meet with families. She’s doing the same thing here at the State Department. It’s truly been a partnership that has tried to serve.
QUESTION: It’s Women’s History Month. Which women have actually played a role in influencing you in your life?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh goodness, there’s so many. My mother, who was born in Wellington, Kansas, and went to Wellington High – I think it was class of ’57 or ’59. I’m sorry, ’47 or ’49, just after the war. A woman named Mary Ann Glendon, who was a professor of mine at Harvard Law School, who I was – I was her research assistant – taught me a lot about hard work and education, and how to think about hard problems. Goodness, the list of women – Susan – all of them have impacted the way I think about the world.
QUESTION: Why did you decide to get into a military career, go to military school? What prompted you? I know your father was in the Navy, so tell me about that decision and changing your trajectory of your life.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, my father served in the Korean War, but that was before I was born, so it wasn’t really a family tradition that drove it. I was – living in southern California at the time, saw this wonderful opportunity to go to West Point. I thought I’d apply, see if I could get in. I was incredibly fortunate, incredibly blessed to get this opportunity to go to this place which I believed if you work hard and tell the truth, good things will happen. And the Lord blessed me and I got that chance, and it has certainly set my direction in life.
QUESTION: What concerns you the most at night?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The ability of the State Department to deliver on its mission. I want to – we’ll face crises in America. There’ll be challenges. This is the nature of the world that we live in. What I want to make sure, what I’m responsible for, is making sure that America’s national security team, the State Department that I lead, is prepared for those crises, is prepared to respond, and is prepared to do the things that are needed to keep America safe. If you said, “What’s the thing that keeps you up,” it’s making sure that my team is ready to go.
QUESTION: What’s the one thing you want to accomplish as Secretary of State?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, goodness. I want to make sure that when the history books are written, that I served President Trump and America well, and that I did so with honor and fidelity and with all my heart. If I did that, then the history books can write whatever they want. I’ll know that I’ve given everything I had to the mission.
QUESTION: Final message that you guys have for your friends back home in Wichita and for Kansans?
MRS POMPEO: We miss you, and as I heard Mike tell a group of folks just a little bit ago, we feel like we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing without all of our friends and family.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I guess too I want to say: Come to Washington. I’m going to be incredibly difficult to find; I’m not going to be there. (Laughter.) But come see the greatness of America, the history, the glory, what our founding fathers have done to set a course for what is the greatest nation in the history of civilization. Washington is a fantastic place to visit.
QUESTION: And I saw you got emotional. Why?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Susan spent her whole life living there in Kansas and loves her friends dearly.
QUESTION: Thank you both for the opportunity. Thank you for asking, and good luck to both of you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Lily. Good luck to you as well.