Donald Trump is still trying to figure out who will play key roles in his administration, including Secretary of State. It is seen as the most important cabinet position, especially since whoever holds the office is fourth in the line of presidential succession. The Secretary of State serves as America’s top diplomat around the world and is often held by those hoping to seek higher office at some point in their careers.
As of November 28, the top candidate for the job is reportedly former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, although another new name has recently emerged. Surprisingly, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a reluctant Trump supporter, has entered the field. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romeny is also being considered for a role in the administration, but now Retired General David H. Patraeus is in the running.
Whoever takes the job will be the face of a radically different approach to foreign policy than the Obama Administration’s. “Peace through strength will be at the center of our foreign policy. We will achieve a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground,” is what Trump vowed on his campaign site.
Here’s a look at some of the candidates for the job.
Frontrunner: Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani supported Donald Trump early on in the presidential campaign. Initially, it was thought that he would be considered for Attorney General, due to his background in practicing law, but Fox News reported on November 15 that he is now in line to be Secretary of State. An official also told the Associated Press that there was “no real competition” for the job and Giuliani could take it if he wanted it.
Giuliani also said during a Wall Street Journal-sponsored event that he “won’t be attorney general.”
If Giuliani gets the job, it will be unexpected because he doesn’t have foreign policy experience. In addition, as the Tribune News Service notes, his work with foreign governments might make it difficult for him to be approved by the Senate.
An associate of Giuliani’s told the Tribune that he currently only has one active foreign contract, and that’s with the Colombian government. If he is nominated, the associate said that Giuliani would release information on his business interests.
While Giuliani acted as a Trump surrogate in 2016, he also worked for Greenberg Traurig, but the associate told the Tribune that he hasn’t met foreign officials on that firm’s behalf or worked with their lobbying operation.
Surprise Pick: Nikki Haley
Haley, who reluctantly supported Trump after the Republican National Convention, emerged as a potential candidate to lead the State Department after MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough tweeted that sources told him she was on the list. Haley met with Trump in New York Thursday.
Haley is the youngest current governor and was the first woman elected governor in South Carolina. She was elected in 2010 and previously served in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Haley has now been nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to the UN, so she can be crossed off as a Department of State candidate.
The Choice Rand Paul Vows to Stop: John Bolton
John R. Bolton, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006, under President George W. Bush, also emerged as a candidate. Bolton has worked in the federal government for decades, with roles under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as well.
If Bolton was nominated, he has one person ready to vote against him: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The senator wrote in an op-ed that Bolton “is a longtime member of the failed Washington elite that Trump vowed to oppose” and called Bolton a “menace.”
“The true statesmen realizes, with reluctance, that war is sometimes necessary but as a country, we should resist any would-be leader who wants to bomb now and think later,” Paul wrote. “President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on changing our disastrous foreign policy. To appoint John Bolton would be a major first step toward breaking that promise.”
In the Mix: Bob Corker
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNBC on November 16 that he is “in the mix” to be Secretary of State.
“Sure we’ve had some conversations with them,” Corker said, adding that others closer to Trump are interested.
Corker was considered a possible vice presidential pick, but Trump went with Mike Pence instead. Corker pulled his own name out of contention in July and praised Trump for picking Pence.
If Corker winds up getting the job, it might come as a sigh of relief to those concerned that Trump will really tear up the Iran Nuclear Deal. Corker told CNN that Trump won’t get rid of it, at least not right away.
“I don’t think he will tear it up and I don’t think that’s the way to start. I think what he should do is build consensus with these other countries that (Iran is) definitely violating the agreement,” Corker said. “He’s going to have Congress with him on that. I think that’s a much better approach.”
The Man Who Doesn’t Want the Job: Newt Gingrich
Instead, Gingrich told Corn that he would rather be “in charge of strategic planning” and “working in the [White House and] investigating government agencies. He told Corn that he wants a role similar to Harry Hopkins‘ in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. Hopkins was Secretary of Commerce from 1938 to 1940 and was a close adviser on the New Deal policies.
Others in the Running
The New York Times also included former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Stanley A. McChrystal, the former senior military commander in Afghanistan, as Secretary of State candidates.
In April, Khalilzad introduced Trump before Trump delivered a key speech to outline his foreign policy.
“…The presidential primaries have shown that our country is deeply conflicted and polarized about America’s purpose and mission around the world. Mr. Trump has been a provocative voice in this debate. His message has resonated with a significant part of our electorate,” Khalizad said in his introduction.
A source for CNN confirmed that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who did not endorse Trump during the campaign, has a meeting with Trump this weekend. They will talk about “governing moving forward.”
On November 28, a different former military leader emerged as a potential candidate. Retired General David H. Patraeus, who also led the CIA, met Trump in New York. “Just met with General Petraeus–was very impressed,” Trump tweeted after the meeting.
“I was with him for about an hour,” Petraeus told the media. “He basically walked us around the world, showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well. Very good conversation, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”