Bat­tle sur­rounds Trump sec­re­tary of state choice

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PALM BEACH, Florida:

As fam­i­lies across a bit­terly di­vided Amer­ica gath­ered for Thanks­giv­ing, a bat­tle erupted Thurs­day in Don­ald Trump’s camp over his pick for sec­re­tary of state, with loy­al­ists seek­ing to block the path of Mitt Rom­ney, a fierce for­mer critic of the bil­lion­aire. With the pres­i­dent-elect hun­kered down at his Mar-a-Lago re­sort in Florida for the hol­i­day week­end - from where he urged the country to unite af­ter a “painful” cam­paign - his team ap­pears split over the prospect of mak­ing Rom­ney, the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2012, Amer­ica’s top diplo­mat.

Some of Trump’s staunch­est sup­port­ers have united to op­pose nam­ing a man who called the real es­tate mag­nate a “fraud” and a “con­man” dur­ing the cam­paign, when he helped lead the party es­tab­lish­ment’s drive to side­line him. But the other lead­ing choice for top diplo­mat, out­spo­ken for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani - one of Trump’s loud­est sup­port­ers from early in his cam­paign has drawn scru­tiny for business deal­ings that could pose con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Op­po­si­tion to Rom­ney

De­spite his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in for­eign pol­icy, Gi­u­liani, 72, has openly lob­bied for sec­re­tary of state, telling Trump’s ad­vis­ers he is in­ter­ested in no other po­si­tion, The New York Times re­ported. How­ever, Gi­u­liani’s can­di­dacy has drawn at­ten­tion to business deal­ings with for­eign gov­ern­ments that may rule him out. Pick­ing Rom­ney who lost the White House race to Barack Obama four years ago - would re­as­sure the Repub­li­can es­tab­lish­ment and US al­lies wor­ried about Trump’s for­eign pol­icy.

But the busi­ness­man and for­mer Mas­sachusetts gover­nor who sav­aged Trump’s can­di­dacy dur­ing the cam­paign also pub­licly dif­fers from him on Rus­sia, a lead­ing for­eign pol­icy chal­lenge. While the pres­i­dent-elect has praised Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, promis­ing to im­prove strained re­la­tions with Moscow, Rom­ney has called Rus­sia Amer­ica’s “num­ber-one geopo­lit­i­cal foe”. Trump’s close aide Kellyanne Con­way cast fur­ther doubt on his suit­abil­ity Thurs­day in what ap­peared to be a bad sign for Rom­ney. — AFP

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