Sen. Chris Coons cast a vote of "present" to allow a Senate Foreign Relations Committee ballot to progress and move the nomination of Mike Pompeo meeting to a full Senate vote, but he made it clear Tuesday that he voted against Pompeo himself during the committee meeting and will vote against him on the Senate floor.
"Because of a Senate rule, he couldn't advance from the committee to consideration by the full Senate unless a majority of senators present voted that day," the Delaware Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, who Coons described as a good friend, was at home in Georgia Monday afternoon to deliver a eulogy for a friend.
"The only thing that changing my vote to 'present' did was change the hour of the vote," said Coons. "If I hadn't done that, Sen. Isakson would have been compelled to come to Washington last night. He could have gotten in about 11, 11:30 and we would have reconvened and he would have had to cast the same vote."
Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.,, praised Coons for his "statesmanship," and said he thinks it showed "senators at the right time can do outstanding things."
"I appreciate what Chairman Corker had to say afterwards, to be clear, I voted against Mike Pompeo in the committee and will still vote against him on the floor," Coons said Tuesday.
"It didn't change the outcome, but it did change the timing and it was an opportunity for me to show a small pressure of kindness and respect to a colleague in the Senate," said Coons.
Coons said he would not vote for Pompeo for secretary of state because of the things he said and did as a candidate to represent Kansas in Congress.
He cited Pompeo's "conduct in the Benghazi hearings, statements he's made about regime change, and in belligerent past statements he's made and in particular some statements he's made about Muslim Americans and the LGBT community."
Fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had "bad chemistry" with President Donald Trump and a lack of connection with the State Department, Coons said, and he agreed with show co-host Joe Scarborough that Pompeo is more closely connected with the president.
"My core concern is about whether or not Mike Pompeo will advocate for rule of law, human rights, for democracy for our core values or will principally be focused on using military force and security concerns," Coons said.
"There's no doubt he is smart and skilled and understands how Washington works and I am hopeful he'll be a successful secretary of state but at the end of the day, he was not someone I could support."
However, there are other Republicans Coons said he could support, including Corker.
Coons also said that he believes Pompeo's vote passed the committee of its hope that he'll behave as secretary of state in the manner in which he led the CIA.
However, he said he's concerned that Pompeo's views don't reflect "the best of American values," and "frankly, more of my problems were with President Trump and his conduct of foreign policy. It is encouraging to see that rather than tweets about fire and fury we are seeing a genuine diplomatic opening to North Korea."
There is still a long way to go toward denuclearization, Coons added, and it's a "positive" that Pompeo and Trump "seem to be making real progress" through negotiating.
However, he said he think there are other Republicans who could have been nominated and gotten 75 or 80 votes easily, including U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, or Corker.
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