Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will appear in Sarasota Thursday night to accept the local GOP’s Statesman of the Year award.
With a war in Europe, tensions in Asia and interest in global affairs high, Republicans in Sarasota expect an insightful event.
“He was peacekeeper of the U.S. and the world for four years,” said Jack Brill, acting chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota. “I’m curious about his comments on (Vladimir) Putin and everything. With what’s going on in the world, the only place you want to be is in Sarasota.”
Pompeo led the State Department at the end of former President Donald Trump’s term, and before that served as Trump’s CIA Director.
“He did a great job,” Brill said. “We had no wars during his four years and we actually were getting out of Afghanistan on our terms.”
Sen. Rick Scott will also attend the dinner, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at Nathan Benderson Park in University Park. More than 600 guests, who paid $100 to $300 a plate for individual tickets, are expected to attend.
The Statesman of the Year Dinner has become a bit of a must-stop for national figures with White House aspirations. Gov. Ron DeSantis accepted the honor last year at a dinner in October. Trump won the honor twice, the only person to date to do so. Scott has also been a recipient of the award.
“In the past, Sarasota has been a stopping point or place to speak for aspiring presidential candidates,” Brill noted.
Pompeo swings through town weeks after his PAC issued an endorsement of Rep. Bill Posey, another sign he’s looking to build a political apparatus with a strong presence in Florida.
But as a former Secretary of State, Pompeo’s voice has boomed around the world. He has also done recent national media interviews on China’s threatening posture toward Taiwan and about Putin’s long-term plans following an invasion of Ukraine. He’s also been highly critical of foreign policy decisions by President Joe Biden.