President-elect Donald Trump’s list of candidates for secretary of state keeps growing as he faces mounting pressure to name someone amid diplomatic missteps with foreign nations.
Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer told reporters last week that Trump was down to four candidates for the secretary of state job, but that seems to have changed.
In addition to the candidates thought to be in the running last week — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, former CIA Director David Petraeus, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — five new names have surfaced as possible candidates.
The list now includes former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, former US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, and retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, according to The New York Times and Politico.
Trump isn’t expected to nominate anyone for several more days.
But he’s facing mounting pressure to choose someone sooner rather than later. Trump set off a firestorm last week when he spoke to the president of Taiwan by phone. The call was the first time a US president had directly spoken with Taiwan’s leadership in more than 30 years, and it could strain US relations with China. The US suspended formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979.
Bolton met with Trump last week and Tillerson is scheduled to meet with Trump on Tuesday, according to the Times.
Bolton was a supporter of the Iraq War, which Trump said he opposed, and has a reputation as a neoconservative. He also favours warming ties with Taiwan as a way to check China’s power.
Stavridis is currently the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was also at one point during the general election named as a potential running mate to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
A spokeswoman for the Fletcher School told Business Insider in a statement that there has “been no discussion” of a specific position for Stavridis in Trump’s cabinet.
“At the request of the Trump transition team, Admiral Stavridis will meet with President-elect Trump on Thursday of this week in New York,” the statement said. “There has been no discussion of a position in the Trump administration.”
Romney, who ran for president himself as the Republican candidate in 2012, was thought to be a frontrunner for secretary of state, but Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has cast doubt on whether Trump would actually pick him. Romney was one of Trump’s most vocal critics during the primaries.
Giuliani also seems to have fallen out of favour with the Trump team.
Corker, a Tennessee Republican, seemed to indicate that he would be loyal to Trump if chosen as his secretary of state.
“The secretary of state’s role is so important to a president,” Corker told reporters after he met with the president-elect. “He needs to choose someone that he’s very comfortable with and he knows that there’s going to be no daylight between him and them. He needs to know that the secretary of state is someone who speaks fully for the president.”
Petraeus emerged as a favourite amid infighting about Romney and Giuliani, but the retired four-star general doesn’t exactly have a blemish-free résumé.
He resigned his post as CIA director in 2012 after his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was made public. And last year, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge of mishandling classified information.
Still, after Trump met with Petraeus, he said on Twitter that he was “very impressed.”
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