It’s the most hotly contested cabinet position in President-elect Donald Trump’s forthcoming administration, and it’s now reportedly down to the final four candidates.
According to Politico, two leading transition team members for Trump said that the secretary of state race was down to four individuals, although they only named two of them.
“At this time, the secretary of state position has been narrowed down to four potential candidates. There is no timetable set” for an announcement, Trump transition communications adviser Sean Spicer said on a Wednesday conference call with reporters.
“But to that point, we do not anticipate any further Cabinet appointments the rest of this week,” he added.
Transition communications director Jason Miller seemed to indicate, in an oblique way, that former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and 2012 Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney were the top two candidates for the position.
“Obviously, you have Gov. Romney, who he’s been chatting with, and Mayor Giuliani, who’s been under strong consideration as well,” Miller told reporters. “But since those have been a little more openly discussed, I’ll go ahead and leave it at that so I don’t get ahead of the president-elect for where he is in the process.”
Unnamed, according to The Washington Post, was former Gen. David Petraeus, whose candidacy for the position had gotten a lot of play in recent weeks. Petraeus’ candidacy had picked up steam after many Trump loyalists had expressed displeasure with Romney’s choice, given the fractious relationship between Romney and both conservatives and Donald Trump.
CNN pointed out that Petraeus was still on probation after a 2015 conviction for mishandling classified information, which might have been a factor in Petraeus not being named during Wednesday’s call. Such a conviction seems to be little impediment to potential work in the White House, however — at least for Democrats.
Other candidates that have been named in connection with the secretary of state nomination included Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, former Gen. John F. Kelly and Bush-era Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
Miller also discussed Romney’s dinner with the president-elect during the call.
“I had the opportunity to speak with the president-elect this morning. He said that he thought the dinner went very well, also adding that he thought there was a good chemistry between the two,” Miller said.
“But also it’s important to keep in mind that the president-elect and Gov. Romney have not spent a significant amount of time together,” he cautioned. “So this is still the process of getting to know each other … once the president-elect is ready to tell us what his decision is, we’ll be ready to go.”
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