Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.
Anjali Sundaram | CNBC
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a group of business leaders and free-trade economists that he believes the trade war with China could end the 2020 presidential election, according to people attending the rally.
At a private luncheon in New York Tuesday, Pompeo spoke in front of a crowd of about 40 people, including finance writer Stephen Moore, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, Gristede's supermarket founder John Catsimatidis and former New York GOP leader Ed Cox, according to people who attended the gathering.
Representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Blackstone did not return a request for comment.
President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on a number of Chinese goods since the start of his administration, while China has retaliated with its own trade barriers.
Pompeo told CNBC's "Squawk Box" earlier Tuesday that he was not sure where things will eventually stand between the US and China.
"I don't know the answer to that. I've talked to Secretary Mnuchin almost every day," Pompeo told CNBC. "I haven't been at the center of these actual negotiations. I've seen them make real progress."
Moore said Pompeo, while talking at lunch, sounded somewhat silent about the prospects of a deal.
"He still thinks we can get a deal before the election. I think we would all agree that it would be better for the country," Moore told CNBC in an interview.
Moore also noted that Pompeo still seemed hawkish to a China trade in the short term. According to Moore, Pompeo pointed out that there are still barriers to an immediate deal.
"It's been a tough battle to get China to agree on things. The hardliners are under command right now," Moore said, reflecting on Pompeo's comments.
Catsmatidis also took away Pompeo's senses that China and the United States will come to an agreement next year.
"He was talking about China. He thinks it will probably be done and that they won't wait until 2020," said the supermarket retailer.
The meeting was organized by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, whose founders include Moore, former Reagan administration economist Art Laffer and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes. Catsimatidis is a member of the group.
See: CNBC's Full Interview with Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo