President-elect Donald Trump’s latest nomination suggests he may create a national security team that branches out beyond his core group of nationalist and hardline conservatives.
From The Hill
Wednesday’s announcement that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is Trump’s nominee for United Nations ambassador follows days of indication that Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is at or near the top of his list for secretary of State.
Both Republicans had been among the most prominent critics of Trump during the presidential campaign, but that does not appear to have ruled them out of top posts in his administration.
Haley’s nomination and the flirtation with Romney are winning Trump praise from some Washington groups that have previously offered skepticism of his foreign policy moves.
“It’s a good step,” said Gary Schmitt, a scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute who has criticized Trump. “But it doesn’t actually tell you how the place is going to run, and we won’t know that until we see that in action.”
Trump won the election this month, despite intense consternation from within his own party, especially on issues of national security.
In March, Schmitt and more than 120 other Republican national security experts signed on to a letter warning that Trump would “make America less safe” and “diminish our standing in the world.”
Romney and Haley were among the highest-profile Republicans to break from Trump during the campaign, and for months quarreled with the man who eventually led their party to its most prominent position in years.
Haley took umbrage with Trump’s call for a ban on foreign Muslims, which she claimed “defies everything this country is based on.” Trump has appeared to walk back the proposal, though its final form remains unclear.
Trump had fired back, too. He claimed in March that Haley’s constituents in South Carolina were “embarrassed” by her.
Romney has had an even more contentious relationship with Trump.
In a speech in March, Romney called Trump a “con man” with a history of failed businesses and lambasted his policy proposals as dangerous.
In response, Trump repeatedly attacked the 2012 GOP nominee as a failure who let down the party.
Haley and Romney would both be a change of form for Trump, who so far has prized loyalty above all.
Major posts in the president-elect’s Cabinet have gone to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) — Trump’s first backer in the Senate and his nominee for attorney general — and former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been tapped as Trump’s national security adviser. Steve Bannon, the controversial former head of Breitbart News who has supported the white nationalist “alt-right,” was named Trump’s chief strategist.
“Some of us thought maybe it would be people like Flynn and Bannon across the board,” said David Adesnik, who served as national policy director for independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin. “It’s been very different from that, and that is certainly beating expectations.”
Adesnik also pointed to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, as a positive sign for the emerging administration.
The tactic is not without pushback from some of Trump’s closest political allies.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is close with Trump, suggested that Romney would be a poor fit for secretary of State and would try to pursue his own agenda instead of Trump’s.
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