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Mike Pompeo thinks Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin would be a "really good" president

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says donors at Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's "Red Vest Retreat" in Virginia Beach have been speculating about whether Youngkin will step off the sidelines and into the 2024 presidential race

"It's fair to say there are absolutely people here who think he would make a great president," Pompeo said in an exclusive interview with CBS News. "By the way, I would include myself amongst the people who think he would be really good in that place, that he's a very capable leader and someone who understands the American people." 

The first Republican presidential primary contest, the Iowa caucuses, will be in about three months, in mid-January. If he were to run, Youngkin would be joining a crowded field of GOP candidates who have been campaigning in early states for months and have ground operations in place. It's also likely at this late date that he would not be on the ballot in some states, as the deadlines for ballot access start to pass. The earliest deadline, in Nevada, was Oct. 16. 

"We're still a long ways off. We're rounding into Halloween here, but we're still an awfully long ways off figuring out who the Republican nominee is gonna be," Pompeo said. 

Pompeo previously considered seeking the GOP nomination himself after serving as secretary of state and CIA director in the Trump administration. He ruled out a run in April, tweeting that "after much consideration and prayer, ... I will not present myself as a candidate to become President of the United States in the 2024 election." 

The two-day retreat, held at the historic Cavalier hotel in Virginia Beach, has brought dozens of donors and political operatives from all over the country to help Youngkin in the upcoming Virginia midterm elections. Youngkin hopes to flip the state Senate to Republican control and hold the House of Delegates. 

"I'm happy to be here to be with people who are friends of the governors as well and are trying to help him make sure that our election here in just a couple weeks now is a successful one," Pompeo said.

Pompeo says Youngkin asked him to speak at the event and considers him a friend. He said he has not contributed to Youngkin's fundraising efforts but is considering it. 

"I haven't contributed, but I should. Maybe that's what I'll do. Maybe I'll blow my checkbook out here today. The Pompeos are definitely all in for Governor Youngkin," Pompeo said. 

The former secretary of state will be participating in a panel at the event on the impact of federal policies on Virginia, including how the ongoing war in Israel will affect Virginians. The U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group recently departed from the Naval Base in Virginia Beach carrier for a scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean. 

The retreat coincided with President Biden's trip to Israel to reassure the country it has the full support of the U.S. in its war with Hamas. Pompeo said he was glad to see Mr. Biden go on the trip, though Jordan canceled his meetings with Arab leaders after an explosion near the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City that Palestinians said killed hundreds. 

"I'm glad that he continued with it. I think it's the right place for him to be today," Pompeo said. "I've heard some of the messaging from the president to date. I didn't get a chance to see it all, but some of it was really good." 

But Pompeo criticized Biden's response to the 31 Americans killed in the Hamas surprise attacks in Israel on Oct. 7.

"We had 30 blue passport holding Americans killed on President Biden's watch in Israel. That is an enormous security failure," Pompeo said. "If we do not respond seriously against the leadership that made this decision, not in Gaza city, not in Beirut, but rather in Tehran, if we don't get that right, we will have too many more days where we're all just heartbroken." 

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