Pompeo delivers speech at state Capitol, warns of Chinese influence in domestic issues

NOW: Pompeo delivers speech at state Capitol, warns of Chinese influence in domestic issues

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the Chinese government’s influence on state and local issues in a speech delivered at the state Capitol.

“This isn’t the Cold War. This is different in kind, to be sure,” Sec. Pompeo said in his speech at the state Senate’s chambers. “It’s why we have to have a conversation in our state legislatures about this China and this China challenge. And it’s important here in Wisconsin as it is in Washington.”

Pompeo delivered his speech in front of an audience that mainly consisted of state Republican lawmakers and touched on issues that involve the U.S.-Chinese relationship, including coronavirus, intellectual property and economic trade deals.

Lawmakers said it was the first time a sitting U.S. Secretary of State visited the state Capitol.

In a one-on-one interview with CBS 58’s sister station in Madison (WISC News 3), Pompeo also reaffirmed the Russian government is attempting to once again influence the upcoming election.

“We’ve made clear to the Russians that that kind of behavior is unacceptable and I’m confident we’ll deliver a safe and secure election where the Russians don’t impact the outcome,” Pompeo said.

Republicans who attended the event praised the secretary’s visit.

“To have an administration that’s trying to balance that relationship and put America in charge of America’s destiny, […] I think is good for everyone, regardless of political party,” Assembly President Pro Tempore Tyler August (R – Lake Geneva) told CBS 58.

But Democrats, who did not attend the speech, called it a distraction and a thinly-veiled campaign stop for the Trump administration.

“It is not pertinent to the emergency situations that we’re dealing with today,” Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D – Mason) said in an interview ahead of Pompeo’s speech. Bewley added criticism of her Republican colleagues who attended the event but have not met since April even as Wisconsin continues to grapple with the pandemic.

“It has nothing to do with COVID-19 it has nothing to do with the people who can’t make their rent payments,” Bewley said.

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