Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, said former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is "desperate to be labeled as the extremist" among potential 2024 Republican candidates after he called her the most dangerous person in the world.
"He's using the same strategy, the extremist's strategy that didn't work for [Republicans] in 2018, 2020, and '22," Weingarten said in an interview Tuesday with global news website Semafor. "And he's flooding the zone with disinformation. And what's dangerous about that is that it will lead to violence. He's decided to use his campaign to foment hate and division."
In an interview with the same publication posted Monday, Pompeo, who has not formally announced his candidacy, was asked about the central themes for any GOP presidential candidate in 2024.
He touched on limited government, protecting religious freedoms and not teaching children "crap in schools, which we are at the center of doing."
"I tell the story often — I get asked, ‘Who's the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim [of North Korea], is it Xi Jinping [of China]?' The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten," Pompeo said. "It's not a close call.
"Who's the most likely to take this republic down? It would be the teachers unions, and the filth that they're teaching our kids, and the fact that they don't know math and reading or writing."
Education has become a key talking point in the past two election cycles, with several states, mostly Republican-led, placing restrictions on subjects such as critical race theory, which holds that racism is inherent in American institutions and policies to maintain social, economic and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites.
Many GOP-led states also are trying to limit what teachers can say about gender identity and sexual orientation, and about which books on those subjects are available to students.
"He needs to fund his campaign," Weingarten said of Pompeo. "He doesn't have a base, so he is trying to get millions from the anti-union, anti-public-education billionaires like [former Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos."
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