The head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, hit back at former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying his recent attack on her was a ‘desperate’ ploy to fuel his presidential ambitions.
Pompeo had castigated her as the “most dangerous person in the world,” even worse than Chinese President Xi Jinping while previewing his policy stances ahead of a speculated 2024 debut. Weingarten shrugged off his attack and postulated he was gunning to be labeled an “extremist in the Republican presidential primary.”
“Pompeo is desperate to be labeled as the extremist in the Republican presidential primary,” Weingarten told Semafor. “He’s flooding the zone with disinformation. And what’s dangerous about that is that it will lead to violence. He’s decided to use his campaign to foment hate and division.”
Many Republicans have long been at odds with the teachers unions, accusing them of hamstringing public education and undermining the quality of education. Weingarten has helmed the AFT since 2008.
“He needs to fund his campaign,” Weingarten added about Pompeo, per the report. “He doesn’t have a base so he is trying to get millions from the anti-union, anti-public education billionaires like Betsy DeVos.”
Weingarten emphasized that Republicans had deployed similar strategies of playing with extremism in the past, but “that didn’t work for them in 2018, 2020, and ’22.”
Pompeo, who has stoked 2024 chatter with his recent visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, and thrown jabs against former President Donald Trump, tore into Weingarten in an interview with Semafor published Monday, pinning the blame for poor education outcomes on her.
“It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” Pompeo contended.
He also knocked the teaching of critical race theory, which stipulates that racism has been deeply entrenched in many United States institutions, and suggested it could lead to U.S. decline.
Pompeo has teased that he will likely make a 2024 decision in the spring of next year and maintained that Trump’s campaign launch last week won’t deter him from throwing his hat in the ring.