QUESTION: So you’re here presenting a Landon Lecture to the students, to the faculty, to anyone who wants to come. Let’s talk a little bit just real quick about what it’s like being back here in Kansas and being able to address young voters.
SECRETARY POMPEO: First of all, thanks for having me on today. It’s awesome to be back in Kansas. This is home. Susan and I love this place dearly and we miss all our friends, our family, our church, everything that we came to know and love living here in Kansas.
So when I flew in yesterday it was fantastic to see a place that I – with which I’m so familiar. I was on campus yesterday afternoon for just a little bit, and today I want to come talk with Kansans about the rights tradition here in the United States of America, how we sometimes take it for granted how blessed we are here in the United States and in Kansas.
And I want to talk about how America’s diplomacy is leading to outcomes that will continue to deliver and protect Americans so that our freedom and democracy and the things we have come to know and value, and our unalienable rights that emanate from those, can continue to be protected, so we – the next generation of young people I’ll be with today and their kids and grandkids – can continue to benefit from those things.
QUESTION: Let’s talk a little bit about diplomacy. I spent a lot of time, especially being in Kansas City, on both the Kansas and the Missouri side talking to farmers and members of rural communities that are concerned about these tariffs and some of the conversations that they’re hearing about, the future discussions with China. What do you want these people to know about what’s going to happen with them?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. Look, I remember when I was a member of Congress. I remember talking to farmers and manufacturers all throughout the state of Kansas. China was ripping them off. Multiple administrations have just refused to defend this country from stealing intellectual property from hardworking Kansans. We have engineering schools where people go invent things and innovate, and then China would just steal them. I remember watching our farmers say, “I can’t sell my product, I can’t sell my corn, I can’t sell my wheat or cotton in China.” President Trump is not going to let that keep happening.
And so we came into office with China treating Americans and Kansans very poorly, and we’re aiming to fix it. That’s the mission set. We just simply want fair trade on the same set of terms, reciprocal trade. Tariff barriers to zero would be perfect, but certainly equal and fair, so that a Kansan who invents a product can sell it to the great people of China in the same way that someone in China who invents a product has the opportunity to sell it to someone right here in Kansas. It’s the President’s mission set. I am confident that we’ll get to that outcome.
QUESTION: But how do we get there when we’re hearing from farmers every day who are watching their soybeans and their corn sit outside of the grain elevators, having to be covered by tarps because there is so much they can’t sell – sell it still?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve talked to a lot of farmers. A lot of farmers are still doing well. This is an economy that’s continuing to grow. I’ve seen great jobs numbers. This is an economy that is thriving.
Look, we don’t like it when anyone loses their job or when any farmer isn’t able to sell his products. That’s the mission set. We’re trying to protect exactly against the thing you just described. For 20, 25 years we’ve had lower farm prices because the Chinese market – a billion-plus people – wasn’t open to Kansas ag or Kansas manufacturing or Kansas service providers as well.
That’s not right, and so we’ve got to fix it. We’re going to fix it as quickly as we can. Secretaries Mnuchin and Lighthizer announced, I think just yesterday or maybe it was the day before, that they’ll engage with their senior counterparts in China again in the coming days. I’m confident that we’ll get to a good place. But it’s important. A deal that’s a bad deal for Kansans is something President Trump will never accept.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about another right and freedom that we have as Americans. That’s the right to vote. I know that we have been seeing a lot of discussions over the last several months about voter security; 2020 is coming up quicker than we think. We’re going to sit down and talk with young voters about how safe they feel when they go into that voting booth. What do you want them to know about what you’re doing and what the administration is doing to make sure that they can vote safely?
SECRETARY POMPEO: When you say safely, make sure that their vote is counted and that it’s done fairly and there is not someone interfering with the elections?
QUESTION: Yes. Yes, exactly.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. This administration has done more than any administration in history to protect that set of rights. We came into office, you’ll recall, when there was election interference in the 2016 election, President Obama’s term in office. Our mission set has been to fix that. We want to correct the errors of President Obama’s administration that allowed election interference to take place.
So we’ve put in work from DHS, from FBI, from the State Department, from every element of the United States Government to reduce the risk that that’ll happen. We’ve had one election in 2018 already during this administration, the midterms. We were successful. We drove out a lot of that interference.
And the American people, and Kansans in particular, should know we’re going to continue to focus on that, whether it’s Chinese interference, Iranian interference, interference from some non-state actor, from the Russians. Whomever it may be, we’re very focused on preserving that critical, fundamental right that we can hold fundamentally safe, fundamentally fair, fundamentally free elections here in Kansas and all across America.
QUESTION: Now, I know that you’ve had several discussions with media outlets around the country, but we are here in Kansas, and there have been some moves lately in the Senate race, including Jake LaTurner switching his focus to run for Representative Watkins’ seat. Are you still thinking of staying in the administration and not getting into the Senate race here?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Every day I am focused on my mission as the Secretary of State, America’s most senior diplomat. It’s what I think about. It’s what I’m focused on. I kind of miss following Kansas politics as closely as it sounds like you are, but I have a very clear mission from President Trump and from the American people to deliver on his America First foreign policy, and me and the team that I have the privilege to lead here for a little bit are going to continue to do that.
QUESTION: Now, I know Senator Roberts is going to be missed by a lot of Kansans, and he will, obviously, be getting a replacement. When the time comes, would you be willing to endorse someone?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m out of that business. I don’t do that.
QUESTION: And we only have about a minute left. Is there anything we didn’t touch on that you would like to say to Kansans?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s important that Kansans understand how central preserving their freedoms are to this administration and how we have delivered across the globe. When we took office, America was – I think the term the previous administration used was “leading from behind.” Those days are over. We’re done apologizing for America.
America is a force for good all around the world, and my mission and the mission of my State Department team is to go deliver on that message and get good outcomes, good outcomes for Kansans and good outcomes for people all around the world. That’s what American foreign policy ought to be about, and it’s what the Trump administration is engaged in.
QUESTION: Wonderful, Mr. Secretary. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much, ma’am.