Now that President-elect Donald Trump has secured the presidency, he must choose who he will surround himself with to help run the country, including the person who will speak for him on the international stage.
There are three top contenders for the secretary of state position: Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and former Speaker of the House New Gingrich. All three men were supporters of Trump’s campaign, and all three have a solid background in foreign policy issues. The decision will most likely center on which candidate comes closest to sharing Trump’s vision on foreign policy and which is the most feasible.
Bolton has the most expansive foreign policy resume of all the candidates. He served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations for just under a year and a half. He has significant experience in arms control as the former under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, which could come in handy when dealing with a recently aggressive Russia and consistently problematic Iran.
Bolton is sometimes described as neoconservative, considering he helped defend Bush’s interventionist foreign policy, while Trump is often considered to follow a more non-interventionist foreign policy. Despite potential policy differences, Bolton was one of Trump’s strongest supporters in the international relations community, which could bode well for his chances.
Gingrich does not have Bolton’s foreign policy resume, but he does have some unique characteristics that could appeal to Trump. He has experience navigating Washington politics, which Trump obviously lacks. Having a key cabinet official who knows how to work with Capitol Hill could be useful to the inexperienced president-elect. Of course, that experience may be put to better use in a position that is more domestically oriented. Gingrich also holds a PhD in history and is still considered to be an intellectual influence in the conservative movement. He was one of Trump’s most high-profile supporters during the campaign, which will certainly not be forgotten.
Corker offers perhaps the the most practical option for the secretary of state job. As current chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he has experience handling several of the international issues Trump is likely to adopt once in office, whereas Gingrich and Bolton have been out of office for years. Like Trump, Corker comes from a business background. He shares Trump’s criticism of several Obama administration policies, including the Iran nuclear deal and the current policy on the Islamic State. The two men break slightly on Russia and the Iraq war, but Corker admitted in April 2015 that “we took a big stick and beat a hornets’ nest” by invading Iraq.
Corker was not as public in his Trump support compared to Gingrich and Bolton, but he defended Trump’s foreign policy positions in his capacity as chairman. He is the youngest of the three, which could be a positive when it comes to grueling travel schedule of a modern Secretary of State. His mild-mannered temperament and voracious appetite for learning the issues could also give him an edge. Corker said in August that he would “strongly consider” taking the post, if offered it.
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