Doha hosts intra-Afghan talks

Then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will zoom into a New Hampshire GOP virtual fundraiser later this month, fueling speculation of a presidential bid as Granite State political watchers say “2024 is definitely getting underway.”

Pompeo will address New Hampshire Republicans during a March 29 fundraiser for Merrimack Town Councilor Bill Boyd, the GOP candidate running in the special election to succeed the late state Rep. Dick Hinch, who died of COVID-19 last year.

“2024 is definitely getting underway in New Hampshire,” veteran Granite State GOP strategist Jim Merrill said, adding that it’s “clear” the home of the first-in-the-nation primary “will once again play a critical role in determining who the next nominee of our party will be.”

Pompeo will address Granite Staters after wrapping an in-person swing through Iowa, where presidential nominating contests traditionally kick off with the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The former Trump administration official didn’t rule out a 2024 bid in a recent interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, saying “I’m always up for a good fight.”

Pompeo isn’t the first potential 2024 candidate laying groundwork in New Hampshire. Former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Arkansas U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton have both visited the Granite State in the past year.

“It just shows the interest within the Republican circles in New Hampshire and people who are thinking about running for president in 2024 and are already looking at laying the groundwork,” New Hampshire GOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek said. “It starts earlier and earlier every cycle.”

First lady Jill Biden also visited Concord on Wednesday to tout President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Pompeo is being billed as a “special guest” at the fundraiser for Boyd, which is being organized by former Granite State congressional hopeful Matt Mowers and the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

“It is always a good idea to do some early ‘friend-raising’ in New Hampshire, to build an early foundation for a future primary campaign,” Merrill said.

Mowers said it’s “tremendously helpful” for would-be presidential candidates to lend a hand in down-ballot races because “folks often remember those who are there to help them out.”

Boyd, who’s campaigning ahead of an April 13 special election, said securing Pompeo’s support is “probably the most humbling thing to me that I have ever experienced.”

“They don’t call New Hampshire ‘first in the nation’ for nothing,” Boyd said. “Anybody that has any political cache, such as Secretary Pompeo, is going to drive statewide, regional and national attention to New Hampshire. It really is a good thing for our state as it relates to 2024.”

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