Mike Pompeo to headline SC GOP’s annual fundraiser, raising presidential suspicions

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Mike Pompeo will headline the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual fundraiser this month, once again elevating suspicions the former U.S. secretary of state and CIA director is carving out a path to run for president in 2024.

Over the years, the Silver Elephant fundraiser, an annual dinner in its 54th year, has played host to Republicans looking for a political boost from the early-voting state. Starting in 1967 with then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan, the dinner has hosted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and, last year, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The gala can typically attract 1,000 or more ticketed guests. Last year’s dinner, held in September, was smaller due to COVID.

“Secretary Pompeo is an excellent champion for our conservative cause, and has proven that here at home and on the world stage,” state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement Tuesday. “We look forward to welcoming him to the Palmetto State, hearing his story, and celebrating past and future Republican successes.”

Pompeo has maintained press coverage since the Trump administration.

He’s stumped between early-voting states, sounded off on the day’s foreign policy news and recently launched a political action committee that aims to help down-ballot Republicans campaign in 2022.

But on 2024 prospects, Pompeo has stayed relatively mum despite showing signs of a potential run.

So has U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who recently told reporters he’s focused on his 2022 Senate reelection bid, launched last month.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also has taken trips to early primary states to help boost Republican campaigns, also told reporters in South Carolina she would not run for president should former President Donald Trump decide to run.

“I would not run if President Trump ran,” Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in April. “And I would talk to him about it. That’s something that we’ll have a conversation about at some point if that decision is something that has to be made. I had a great working relationship with him. I appreciated the way he let me do my job.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence also spoke to hundreds of Christian conservatives in Columbia back in April.

Though he avoided any 2024 talk, Pence made it all but clear winning back the White House would start in South Carolina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.