Teachers union head: Pompeo ‘desperate to be labeled as the extremist’ in GOP primary

Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said in an interview that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is “desperate to be labeled as the extremist” in the upcoming 2024 Republican presidential primary race.

In an interview with Semafor, Weingarten, who has been the AFT’s president since 2008, said that Pompeo’s latest attacks toward her are an attempt for him to gain millions of dollars in funding for a potential presidential campaign.

“He needs to fund his campaign,” Weingarten told the media outlet.  “He doesn’t have a base so he is trying to get millions from the anti-union, anti-public-education billionaires like Betsy DeVos.”

Weingarten also said that Pompeo, who is thought to be eyeing a potential 2024 White House bid, is trying to use the same “extremist” platform GOP candidates used in the previous election cycles, noting that he wants to form his campaign on “hate and division.”

“Pompeo is desperate to be labeled as the extremist in the Republican presidential primary,” Weingarten told Semafor in the interview, which was published Tuesday. “He’s using the same strategy, the extremist’s strategy that didn’t work for them in 2018, 2020, and ’22. And he’s flooding the zone with disinformation. And what’s dangerous about that is that it will lead to violence. He’s decided to use his campaign to foment hate and division.”

Weingarten’s response comes a day after Pompeo, who spent nearly three years as secretary of State under the Trump administration, told Semafor in an interview that he believes the ATF union chief is the “most dangerous person in the world,” noting that education should be one of the central issues that Republicans who will run for president in 2024 should focus on.

“It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” Pompeo said in the interview.

“These are the things that candidates should speak to in a way that says, “Here’s the problem. Here’s a proposal for how to solve it. And if given the opportunity, these are the things I will go work on to try and deliver that outcome that fixes that problem. Pretty straightforward stuff,” he added.

Education was one of the issues Americans cited as the most important during the 2022 midterm election cycle, as many GOP-led states implemented laws that prohibited the teaching of critical race theory — a college-level theory that posits racism underlies American institutions and public policies — or LGBTQ perspectives in classrooms.

Weingarten also responded to Pompeo’s comments in a Twitter thread on Monday, referring to it as either “ridiculous or dangerous.”

“At the state department, Pompeo defended Middle East’s tyrants & undermined Ukraine. He was more focused on pleasing Trump than fighting 4 freedom, national security & democracy. To compare us to China means he must not know what his own department says,” Weingarten wrote in her Twitter thread.

“Maybe spend a minute in one of the classrooms with my members and their students and you will get a real lesson in the promise and potential of America,” she wrote.

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