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QUESTION:  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Low Country as we sit on this Veterans Day.  Let’s go out to him live right now.  He’s in Mount Pleasant.  Good morning, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Good morning.  How are you this morning?

QUESTION:  Well, thank you for your service.  And from one Army veteran to another – some might not know that you were actually an Army captain and graduated from West Point – what does this day mean to you?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, it’s pretty special.  Thank you for your service, too.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.  I’m going to be out at the Citadel today talking to some amazing young men and women who are considering a life of service to America.  I want to thank them for their willingness to think about that, and I want to remind them the power of that service.  You had a chance to serve in the Army.  Those of us who have had this opportunity know it’s an incredible privilege and that we can, in fact, be a force for good in the world.  And I want to talk to them about how that is, why that is, and why it’s important what it is they’re doing today.

QUESTION:  Indeed, sir.  Let’s go back a little bit to your education.  What inspired you to first attend West Point?  Not many people are up to the task for that.  I believe you graduated first in your class, and then you served in the U.S. Army.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I was a young kid in high school like so many and saw this place that I thought was so unique, so special.  I had no idea if I could manage to get in, if I would be able to make it through, and then when I got there I found out it was this remarkable place that truly did a great job of training America’s leaders, training America’s military leadership.  It was an incredible privilege that America gave me to be able to attend the United States Military Academy.  I look back on those days now, goodness gracious, almost 40 years ago now and thank America for what it’s given to me.

QUESTION:  Definitely, sir.  Well, this event that you’re part of down at the Citadel today is actually part of the Greater Issues Series, which started back in 1954.  Now, it’s all about engaging cadets’ interest in important topics of the day.  What do you think are the most important topics for the average cadet right now?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  I want to make sure every one of those cadets understands the fundamental nature of American power.  Many of them will end up being part of that.  It’s not just our military power; it’s our economic power.  I was with Governor McMaster last night.  He was telling me about how great the economy here is in South Carolina.  He’s done a fantastic job of building out jobs and growth so that families can be successful here.

That power, as I travel the world as America’s most senior diplomat, they know.  People around the world know this is a powerful economic force, we have a powerful military force, and it gives us the capacity to shape events around the world in a way that keeps America safe.  And I want to talk to those cadets today about the power of America and how we generate it and how we use it as a force for good all around the world.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, if I may, obviously the big national headline of the week is the ongoing impeachment inquiry.  You’re on the record calling it “noise.”  How does that noise impact your day-to-day?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  That’s why I’m so focused and my team at the State Department is so focused on things that really impact the American people’s lives.  To be honest, when I travel – I was in Germany last week; I traveled, goodness, three weeks before that – no one asked me about Ukraine or impeachment.  They ask about America and our role and will we help them, can we help them in Syria, ensure that we get a good political resolution there, can they help us push back against an ever-threatening China.  They don’t ask about these things that become the swirl in Washington, D.C.  And I want to for myself, I want my team, very focused on those things where we can have a real impact on the American people’s lives.

QUESTION:  All right, great there.  Thank you, Mr. Secretary Mike Pompeo, for joining us.  Once again, welcome to the Low Country and Happy Veterans Day to you.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you very much.  It’s great to be here.  Happy Veterans Day to everyone.


U.S. Department of State

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