Transcript of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s address at the Sumter County Fairgrounds in Bushnell, Florida on Jan. 23:
My mission is really, really simple: to make the world safer, so we don’t have to send our young men and women off to fight.
In President Trump’s administration, we stare at the world as it really is, as it actually is, the reality on the ground. The same way you do each and every day in your lives. You can’t pretend, you can’t wish; you have to work within the world in which we live, in which it exists. And the good news is, in spite of what you may read elsewhere that people don’t like America, everywhere I go, I see a deep love for our country and for you.
You see it, too. You see it on the news. You see it in Hong Kong, where protesters seeking freedom wave American flags. They sing our National Anthem. I’ve seen it, too, in Iran. There’s protests. If you were to read the news, you’d think they were anti-American protests. The truth of the matter is the regime puts down American flags on the ground – you’ve all seen it – and Iranians refuse to step on it. They walk around. They have respect for our country. They want freedom. They want freedom, just like we all have and enjoy here in the United States of America.
I’ve traveled to almost 60 countries in my 20 months as Secretary of State, and I see this love for our nation everywhere. From Bogota to Vietnam, from Australia to Italy, well-wishers line the streets as America’s Secretary of State drives by. And it’s not because me that when that beautiful American plane lands they want to see me. It’s not because of Mike. It’s because I’m America’s Secretary of State, and I represent this great country.
Make no mistake about it: The world knows what you stand for, what we stand for, what our country stands for. And they want it, too. They want to have the freedom and liberty and democracy that our Founders gave to us. This is the home of the brave and the land of the free, and we’re darn lucky to have it. And it’s folks like you who help me deliver that each and every day.
Our Founders got it right. They changed the course of human history. People all across the world know this; they know America is special. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen them. I’ve seen it up close. I saw it now, goodness, decades ago when I was a young Army captain, when I was in my M1 tank patrolling the East German border. On one side, there was freedom and liberty, and on the other side tyranny. And never forget, when that wall came down, when the East Germans gave up, traffic traveled one way. It traveled towards freedom. It’s always the case in human history.
And we never gave up. We didn’t know precisely what day that would happen. We didn’t know precisely when the Soviet Union would fall. But so many Americans committed to this central purpose of protecting America, protecting freedom. Delivered. Delivered for people all across the world and made America a safer place as well.
You know what else? You know what else we stand for and the world loves? They love that we stand for religious liberty as well. Christians, Jews, Muslims – doesn’t matter. You can believe what you want here in America, or you can choose not to believe at all. Never before has that right, never in the world has that right been recognized it is – as it is here in the United States of America. Religious oppression has frankly defined good parts of human history, but America has worked to change that game. It was George Washington, to the Jews in Newport, Rhode Island, back in August of 1790 and said that the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
But if it’s true we haven’t won the fight just yet, we know there is work to do. Eighty-three percent of the world’s population lives in nations where religious freedom doesn’t exist or is challenged, from Syria to Nigeria to China. We’ve got work left to do, but we’ll keep after it.
Under President Trump, America is the world’s leader in religious freedom once again.
On Friday, on – in Washington, on the Mall in Washington, D.C., people will be marching for life. President Trump will be there, the first time in history that an American president has attended the world’s largest human rights rally.
You should know that the State Department has an important role in protecting life as well. In previous administrations, your taxpayer dollars have gone to underwrite abortions around the world. Never in this administration; not one dollar ever.
We know that people all across the world should be free to worship their own god. I raise it in every meeting. President Trump knows this. The world loves it. They love, too, that we stand for freedom and markets and capitalism and the right to take risks and to work hard, to raise your family. They love capitalism – not that S word.
Our government respects the right for you to own your home and own your farm – basic property rights. They know that the rule of law matters, that it’s better for their own people and that every human being should be given that shot to make it, to take risks, and do it just the way they want to. We love that. We love competition here in America because when Americans get a level playing field, we’ll compete and we’ll win.
For too long, we weren’t winning. Now, we have a president who is getting it done. Is anybody tired of winning yet?
I was out in Silicon Valley last week. I was asked what surprised me most since I became America’s Secretary of State. I told the group that was there, I said it’s the corruption that I see around the world. It poisons economies. It denies liberty and freedom and opportunity for people all across the world. We’re so lucky to live here. Never bet against America. It’s the best investment advice I’ve ever gotten.
Now, I know there are other nations that think they have better models. All the while, the American economy outgrows them. We out-innovate them. You all out-work them. We out-produce them. And their people look to us to see exactly what our ancestors saw and what my ancestors who came over from Italy saw: They saw opportunity, heaps and heaps of opportunity.
And on that note, if you know any young people who want to come into great service at the State Department, state.gov. It’s a great place. We have a great team out delivering freedom all across the world.
I want you to know today that all across the world, wherever I travel, the world knows what we stand for here in America, and they love it and they value it. They see that the Trump administration’s foreign policy has delivered for our nation. Let me just give you a few examples now three years on.
I was privileged to serve as President Trump’s director of the Central Intelligence Agency for the first year and six months or so of the administration. I watched other nations see how we executed our mission. They wanted to be like America.
This administration, too, is the most pro-Israel administration in American history. We recognized the reality in the Golan Heights. We moved – as politicians for decades had committed they would, we moved our embassy to Jerusalem. The Vice President was just there today. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Lieutenant General Gantz will be in Washington next week. We know this is an important relationship – the best democracy in the Middle East. It’s powerful, so much more too.
Last week, you saw a winning trade deal with China. President Trump had just a simple way of thinking about this, which is: Well, this relationship’s just not fair. When an American company wanted to go sell their products in China – when I was a small business owner, I saw this – it was really hard to do. When an American company wanted to go invest in China, it was really difficult to do. But when China wanted to come here, we made it really easy. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not reciprocal, it’s not even – pick a word.
President Trump’s working to change that, to create that more level playing field so that Americans will have jobs and opportunity. This is historic and important and will change the lives of our children and our grandchildren.
As we turned the new year, too, the work that the State Department had done to build out a coalition to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran has borne fruit as well. So many nations have joined in this, with this – our Gulf allies, Israel, major European countries. They see clearly the threat that the ayatollahs pose to the region and the world.
There was this really bad guy, and this really bad guy killed over 600 Americans. Some of them were from Florida, some of them were from Kansas, some of them were my friends. I’m sure some of them were yours. He maimed hundreds and hundreds more.
And then this terrorist was continuing to plot against America. We could see it. Traveled to Beirut, traveled to Damascus, and then he was headed for Baghdad. And he was headed there to continue to plot to kill more Americans.
President Trump said we are not going to let Qasem Soleimani take another American life.
I have to tell you, I was part of that decision-making process. Lots could have potentially gone wrong. But President Trump made the courageous decision that said we’re going to protect America, we’re going to defend America, we’re going to get this right. We’re going to take a terrorist from the battlefield. We’re going to reduce the risk here to each and every one of you. We’re going to make America safer. And we did just that.
We’re protecting and defending freedom and advancing it around the world in lots of places. We’re advancing freedom in Cuba. We’re working to restore democracy in Venezuela.
You know this here in Florida: These are tyrannies. These are leaders that have destroyed countless lives. Now some 6 million people have fled Venezuela, only because this madman Maduro destroyed their ability even make a living for their families, to take care of their kids. That’s not right, it’s not decent, and America will stand with the Venezuelan people until we can have a free and fair election and restore democracy to that once proud nation.
The world see this. It sees that it’s time to have our hemisphere, the place we are today, be a hemisphere of freedom. The world knows what America stands for. It is true now more, frankly, than ever, and people around the world who love liberty, who love democracy and love freedom, are with us. They stand with us. They want to be with us. They want to stand with you. And we’re going to get that done.
You see it in places as far-flung as Ukraine, where this President stood against Russian tyranny and delivered defensive weapon systems to the Ukrainian people so they could defend their own freedom.
President Trump too, in a place where America’s national security depends on American economic power and might, has freed energy resources all across great places like Kansas and Texas, and we no longer now have to rely on oil that comes from dangerous places in the world.
This is what President Trump and his foreign policy have delivered on in the first three years. We continue to work on it. And in each of the places that I described, there still remains much work to do, but America will prevail. We should all bet on our nation. We should all support the foreign policy that has been laid out. And we should all work together to make sure that we deliver, each and every day, a safer, more secure, more prosperous United States of America.
Thank you. Thank you all for joining me here this afternoon. The President’s on his way to Florida, too. He’s heading – he’ll be in Miami shortly. We are committed to continuing to make sure that you and your children and grandchildren can live in freedom and can live in this very special nation. May God bless each and every one of you, and may God bless the great nation of the United States of America.