Pompeo, who was viewed as a likely GOP presidential contender but one who never polled particularly well, did not completely shy away from the possibility of ever running for president.
“To those of you this announcement disappoints, my apologies,” Pompeo said in a two-minute video posted to Twitter. “And to those of you it thrills, know that I’m only 59 and there remain many more opportunities for which the timing might be more fitting as presidential leadership becomes even more necessary.”
Pompeo has sought to distance himself from his former boss, Donald Trump, while remaining close to the political groups Trump has come to dominate.
Pompeo chose to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, unlike many big-name Republicans such as former vice president Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both of whom are likely presidential contenders.
Addressing a CPAC crowd Pompeo attacked Trump without mentioning his name.
“We can’t become the left, following celebrity leaders with their own brand of identity politics — those with fragile egos who refuse to acknowledge reality,” Pompeo said. “We can’t shift blame to others, but must accept the responsibility that comes to those of us who step forward and lead.”
In his speech, Pompeo made a reference to Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, which he also cast doubt on days after Joe Biden had been proclaimed the winner.
When asked days after Joe Biden was declared winner how the State Department would transition under such a situation, Pompeo replied: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” He later evaded further questions during a Fox News interview when he was asked whether he was being serious when he made those comments.
After leaving the Trump administration, Pompeo sought to portray his legacy as one of a hard-nosed statesman.
In his book “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” which published in January, Pompeo said journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist who was brutally murdered in 2018, was an “activist.”
Pompeo took the side of Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who was found to have ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, and defended at length the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Trump, Nikki Haley, also a former Trump Cabinet member, and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have announced their run for the Republican nomination for president. Sen. Tim Scott also announced an exploratory committee this week.
Amy B. Wang contributed to this report.