Mike Pompeo and Governor Kristi Nem criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin as they navigate potential 2024 runs

Kristi Noem, the South Dakota Governor and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sharply criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin's military actions in Ukraine on Friday. 

Mike Pompeo and Governor Kristi Nem criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin as they navigate potential 2024 runs

Both were able to agree with former President Donald Trump that the foreign leader was "smart" as well as "savvy."

"I also want to destroy Vladimir Putin. But pretending is not an option. You don't pretend your enemy's weak when he isn't. Pompeo said to CBS News chief election correspondent Robert Costa that he doesn't pretend to be dumb when he is smart.

Pompeo, who was secretary of state under the Trump administration and CIA director, said in January to Fox News Sunday that Putin is a "very gifted statesman". He is a gifted man. For goodness sakes, he was a KGB agent. He is a master at using power. We should all respect his wisdom.

"You must get to know your opponent. Then you must beat your adversary. If you pretend otherwise, to say "Oh, he's just madman," this could risk American lives. Pompeo stated to CBS News that he would never do such to the American people.

Both Noem and Pompeo, potential Republican presidential candidates, are trying to navigate the political dynamics of balancing Trump's base and their views on Putin.

After the speech of Russian President in which he defended Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Trump called Putin "smart" during a radio interview on Tuesday with "The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show".

Interviews at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Orlando, Florida, were given by Noem and Noem. They both criticised the Biden administration's inability to be strong enough against Russia before the invasion of Ukraine. Noem stated that Biden had "opened the door" to Putin by cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline and establishing regulations for the oil and gas industry.

"I believe that Putin is an evil man. Noem stated that Putin is an evil man who seeks power and respects strength. President Biden has been weak and this is why we are seeing the results in Ukraine today."

Noem said that if Biden can send a clear message on America's energy production, and supply it to NATO countries, then U.S. troops in Ukraine would be unnecessary.

Pompeo stated that while it is not sensible to send more U.S. troops to Ukraine, NATO countries should be ready to support Ukraine's neighbors and ensure that no NATO country suffers the same as the Ukrainian people.

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley told CBS News that the U.S. cannot afford to send more troops to Europe. He also said that the U.S. should reduce their troop presence in Europe to make room for China.

"I don't support having them in the fighting. This is not in our security interests. We can and should take other actions in Europe to be tough on Russia. We must keep our eyes on East Asia, which is our top security priority. He said that China is the number one security priority.

Pompeo was vague when asked if the U.S. should create a "no-fly zone" above Ukraine.

Pompeo stated, "I cannot imagine that there aren’t tools that create far more risk for the United States of America that a no-fly zone, which could have prevented this from occurring,"

Both refused to comment on the possibility of a run for president in 2024. Noem stated that she is not considering a presidential bid and that her focus is on South Dakota. If Trump ran, she said that she would vote for him in 2024.

"I wanted to use CPAC to have the opportunity to speak about South Dakota and most people. They first heard of me when the liberal media started to attack me for the COVID decisions. Noem stated that nobody knows much about my past.

Pompeo was in Des Moines (Iowa) on Wednesday and said that he has been supporting candidates from all walks of the ticket for the 2022 midterm election.

Pompeo answered a question about Trump's decision to enter the race. He said that he believed he was the best candidate to become president of the United States. I don't know what Donald Trump will do, but I know this. This is a fight I have been involved in for an awfully long period of time and it's worthy. We all should work together to win it."

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