Pompeo tells McConnell he won't run for Senate

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Josh Lederman and Abigail Williams  with NBC News Politics
Image: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo delivers remarks on human rights in I
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on human rights in Iran at the State Department on Dec. 19, 2019.   -   Copyright  Erin Scott Reuters file

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday that he would not be seeking a Senate seat, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The meeting and decision were first reported by The New York Times.

Pompeo's decision not to jump in the race for the Kansas contest is a blow to Senate Republicans who thought Pompeo would be the strongest candidate to win the seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican retiring after four terms, at the end of the year.

"Leader McConnell spoke with Secretary Pompeo this afternoon where he indicated he will not be running for Senate," a source close to McConnell told NBC News. "Leader McConnell believes Secretary Pompeo is doing an incredible job as Secretary of State and is exactly where the country needs him to be right now."

Last month, Pompeo told Fox News that he did not want to make a Senaterun — despite signs saying otherwise.

"So Susan and I love Kansas," Pompeo said on "Fox and Friends," referring to his wife. "But it's my intention to stay here and continue to serve as President Trump's secretary of state. I've said that consistently. I intend to keep saying it, and as long as President Trump wants me to serve in this capacity, there's still work to do."

The State Department has not responded to requests for comment.

Some believed Pompeo was taking steps that hinted at a run. He made numerous trips to Kansas in the wake of Roberts' announcement and launched a personal Twitter account — separate from his State Department account — and an Instagram page in December.

Roberts said last month he'd spoken to numerous Republicans interested in running for his seat earlier this year, including Pompeo.

"I think he showed a little leg, if you want to use that term," Roberts said.

Some Republicans believed Pompeo would be the best candidate to beat former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the state's primary. Kobach, who holds far-right views on issues including immigration, is fresh off statewide defeat. After winning the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2018, Kobach lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and State Senator Susan Wagle are also running in the Republican primary.

Pompeo met with McConnell in a classified room in the basement of the Capitol on Monday afternoon.