Democrats criticize Pompeo visit while Republicans see it as advantage on trade

MADISON, Wis. — Following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the Wisconsin state capitol, state senate Republicans are seeing the trip as an advantage for Wisconsin farmers and businesses, but Democrats see it as a campaign stop.

Senate president Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, said it was the first time a secretary of state addressed the state legislature. Pompeo focused on influence he said is coming to the country from the Chinese Communist Party.

“It’s given us an eye opening experience to recognize that we’re not immune to this kind of influence here in Wisconsin, and there’s work we can do,” Roth said.

He said because of this information the legislature has a lot to consider for the next session.

“He raised some interesting things that we can look at, particularly when it comes to the investments we have in the Wisconsin Retirement System, some of the companies that were invested in are Chinese-owned state media,” he said.

The visit was critical of China, a key trade partner for Wisconsin farmers.

Pompeo said the current talks will lead to short-term hits, which Roth believes will be worth it in the end.

“We can’t go on like this,” Roth said. “There’s going to be a short term hit and they feel that, but the hope is that we can get it right. They know if we can get it right Wisconsin can compete with anyone in the world, and we’ll beat them at their game, and that’s really what our hope is.”

Roth said Pompeo’s trip also allows legislators to get in the secretary’s ear so he’s thinking of Wisconsin when negotiating trade.

Democrats meanwhile are not only critical of how trade is going but Pompeo’s decision to visit in the first place.

“It is a distracting, attention-sucking, wasteful demonstration of desperation,” said minority leader Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason.

Bewley said the Wisconsin people don’t want this, instead saying they want action on coronavirus and other problems the state is facing.

“They need stability,” she said. “They need reassurance. And what do they get? They get Mike Pompeo coming to address the Wisconsin senate about trade policy with China.”