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CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Conservative groups and Republican foreign policy leaders are using Mike Pompeo's meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-un to target red-state Democrats who are wavering on supporting Pompeo's confirmation as Secretary of State.

What they're saying: These groups argue that Pompeo's North Korea visit is a game changer, and that expediting his confirmation process is a major national security interest. They'll also argue that in rejecting Pompeo, who has already negotiated on behalf of the president for a planned meeting of the two leaders, these vulnerable senators are playing partisan politics instead of doing their job to protect the American people.

Who they're targeting: Red-state Senate Democrats such as Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Bob Casey (Pa.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

  • Between the lines: Conservative groups know that these red-state Democrats are exceptionally vulnerable ahead of the midterm elections, and voting against confirming Pompeo for State could further jeopardize their standing with Republican voters.

Who's behind the campaign:

  • Former Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lester Munson, has released a statement saying the Senate should use Pompeo's trip as evidence that he's qualified for the position.
  • Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes, wrote on Twitter: "Mike Pompeo is already helping President Trump negotiate denuclearization of North Korea. Senate Dems should confirm him immediately as Secretary of State."
  • Ken Blackwell, who headed Domestic Policy for Trump Transition, said on Twitter: "Now is not the time to play games. Mike Pompeo is doing vital work on behalf of the president working to de-nuke North Korea. He deserves your support as SoS."
  • Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, on Twitter: "News that Mike Pompeo is already helping @POTUS negotiate peace for the Korean peninsula shows he has the trust & confidence of Pres. Trump! .... [Senate Democrats] should do the right thing & vote to #ConfirmPompeo!"
  • Lt. General Jerry Boykin, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under George W. Bush, on Twitter: "#ConfirmMikePompeo! He is already demonstrating diplomacy and leadership that will continue to help the #President revitalize America’s position as leader of the free world."

Go deeper

The separate and unequal paths in business

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When a bank turned down George Johnson for a business loan, he got creative. He returned and told the bank he needed $250 to take his wife on a vacation — and was approved. Then he invested the cash in his business, which became the first Black enterprise to trade on the American Stock Exchange.

Why it matters: The highways to success in the U.S. market economy — in entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and wealth creation — are often punctuated with roadblocks and winding detours for people of color.

GOP state legislatures move to assert control over election systems

Contractors in Phoenix in May 2021 recounting ballots as part of a 2020 general election audit requested by the Arizona State Senate. Photo: Courtney Pedroza for the Washington Post

Republican-held state legislatures have passed bills that give lawmakers more power over the vote by stripping secretaries of state of their power, asserting control over election boards and creating easier methods to overturn election results, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: The bills, triggered by baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, threaten to politicize traditionally non-partisan election functions by giving Republicans more control over election systems.