Donald J. Trump, the President Elect of the United States of America, continues to widen the field for prospective candidates to be anointed his Secretary of State. The search has expanded beyond the four men thought to be shortlisted for the role: Mitt Romney, a Republican Presidential nominee in 2012, Rudolph Guiliani, New York’s former Mayor, David H. Petraeus, ex-director of the CIA and retired general, and Senator Bib Corker hailing from Tennessee, and presently chairman of Foreign Relations Committee.
New to the diplomatic game
For Trump’s transition team, the person to take the post assumes more importance as the President Elect face questions concerning his conversation with the Taiwanese President during the last week of November. The verbal conversation clearly breached international protocol and angered China, a dominant power in the region. It also led to nervousness among the other Asian nations. A prospective new candidate, John R. Bolton, a former ambassador to United Nations under the George W. Bush presidency and a new contender to the Secretary of State post, agrees with Trump on the Taiwan issue. He had-and continues to have- advocated closer US-Taiwan ties as a method of putting the requisite pressure on China. He has publicly said that Chinese power in the Asian region must be capped.
The post of Secretary of State has other contenders beside Bolton. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a the present US Ambassador to China under the Obama administration and former Utah governor is one. The other two include Rex W. Tillerson and Senator Joe Manchin III. The former is the CEO and President of Exxon Mobil and the latter a Democrat from West Virginia. If Vice-President Elect Mike Pence is to be believed, Bolton and Trump had already met and Tillerson will soon meet the President Elect. Trump is said to be leaning towards Bolton, despite their differences when it came to the Iraq war. The President Elect had termed Bolton as “tough cookie”.
Loyalist vs. ex-critics
All these does not mean that Romney is out of the Secretary of State race. Advisers to Trump are fighting campaign loyalists when it comes to choosing the 2012 presidential candidate. The latter have not forgotten that Romney has been one of Trump’s sharpest critics during the campaign. Trump personally has no problems appointing the latter as Secretary of State. The candidate has come under heavy fire from the likes of Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to the President Elect, who asked Romney how he could consider himself as an official under the Trump administration when he criticized the former during the campaign.