Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taunted dead Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, saying 'Allah rest his soul' during a barnstorming speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
'I'm not a diplomat,' Pompeo reminded the crowd as he took stage in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, offering a defense of Donald Trump's foreign policy while criticizing President Joe Biden's early moves.
'So how many of you remember Qasem Soleimani? Allah rest his soul,' Pompeo asked the audience, referring to the general killed in a U.S. missile strike in January of last year.
Donald Trump's brazen move to assassinate the head of Iran's clandestine military unit, said to be a top financier of terror, drew venomous fury from Tehran and brought the two countries to the brink of war.
A missile strike from a U.S Reaper drone killed Soleimani instantly as he traveled in a convoy leaving Baghdad International Airport during a clandestine trip to Iraq.
Iran, which backs Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, retaliated when Iranian forces launched ballistic missiles at the Al Asad Airbase and an airbase near Erbil, both in Iraq, where American personnel were located.
No American casualties were initially reported, but it later emerged dozens of U.S. service members suffered suspected traumatic brain injuries from shock waves of the blasts.
Despite Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's vow to take 'harsh revenge' against America for Soleimani's death, the two nations stepped back from the brink of war.
In his speech on Saturday, Pompeo defended the Trump administration's aggressive stance toward those who would hurt Americans.
'I sent messages repeatedly to bad guys around the world that if you touch an American, you'll pay dearly,' he told the crowd. 'America First secures our freedom and the entire world benefits when America is fearless, bold and strong.'
He said Trump's decision to leave the Paris climate agreement was the right move and slammed Biden for rejoining the pact.
'When President Biden reentered this deal I can tell you that [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping was smiling every single minute, and the American worker lost,' he said.
Pompeo also lashed out at Biden's domestic decisions, such as canceling the KeystoneXL pipeline, which the ex-secretary of state said 'killed 10,000 jobs.'
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The former top diplomat bragged that the mostly symbolic sanctions that China and Iran had levied against him were evidence that his aggressive approach toward adversaries worked.
'Never forget that China depends more on us than we do on them,' he said. 'President Trump understood that, our foreign policy understood that, and we protected the American worker from the Chinese Communist Party's predation.'
Pompeo also touted the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel and the Abraham Accords as huge foreign policy successes.
He also pointed to Trump's dealings with the North Koreans, including two meetings with leader Kim Jong Un.
'Exactly zero tests have been conducted,' Pompeo said of the North Korean nuclear program, in the aftermath of two summits. 'That's real foreign policy.'
Pompeo also mocked Biden for saying 'America is back.'
'Back to what?' he asked.
He then suggested that Biden would go too easy on Iran.
The keynote speech offered Pompeo to chance to carve out his own lane for a potential political future, and he used it to signal he intends to appeal to Trump's base.
Saturday's CPAC will also feature an appearance by pro-Second Amendment firebrand Rep. Lauren Boebert.
Trump is due to make his first speech as a private citizen at the prominent conservative conference on Sunday.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.