Washington – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. With that, Haley becomes the first woman with a senior post in his administration.
In a statement, the president-elect said: “Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country.”
“She is also a proven deal maker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage,” added Trump.
Haley accepted the offer, saying in a statement: “Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the president-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next ambassador to the United Nations.”
Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, to Sikh parents who emigrated from India, Halley is the second Asian-American to become a governor in 2011 and is also the youngest governor is the country.
If appointments are confirmed by the Senate, Haley would become Trump’s first female and first non-white to be a cabinet-level official.
Haley would be the third consecutive female U.S. ambassador to the U.N., after Susan Rice and Samantha Power, the current ambassador.
U.N. ambassador is the highest-profile diplomatic position, after secretary of state, often serving as the voice for U.S. positions on the international stage. Haley would have more opportunity to shape U.S. policies, rather than simply defend the administration’s positions.
Analysts say that Trump’s campaign slogan “America first” and his statements that he is skeptical about “international unions that tie us up and bring America down”, put Haley in a position to change the image of Trump’s administration. Trump has also described the United Nations as weak and incompetent.
The South Carolina governor was critical of Trump throughout much of the presidential race, Earlier this year, Haley called Trump one of the “angriest voices” in politics and criticized his “irresponsible talk,” including the candidate’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
She initially backed Trump’s rival Senator Marco Rubio during the GOP battle for a White House nominee.
Analysts predict that the president-elect will assign another female in his administration.
Trump is spending Thanksgiving with his family at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Meanwhile, informed sources at the transition team said that Trump is likely to assign former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as Secretary of State and retired General James Mattis as Defense Secretary.
Announcements for both slots were delayed due to internal pressures in the transition team between those with Romney and those who want former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Despite exchanged criticism and statements between Trump and Romney, analysts believe that both men are ready to put all differences behind them.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said that Romney is “under active and serious consideration” to be secretary of state.
Following a meeting between Trump and Romney, Pence said: “I would tell you that it was not only a cordial meeting, but also it was a very substantive meeting.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he preferred Rudy Giuliani to Mitt Romney as a potential secretary of state.
“Frankly, I think that if you want someone who is going to go out and be a very tough negotiator for America and represent American interest in the way that Trump campaigned, I think that probably Rudy is a better pick and has the right temperament,” he elaborated.
Retired Marine General James Mattis has emerged as Trump’s leading candidate to be Defense Secretary. He retired in 2013.
Mattis, who served in the Marines for 43 years and led U.S. forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, met with Trump over the weekend at the president-elect’s golf course in New Jersey.
“General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for secretary of defense, was very impressive yesterday,” Trump wrote Sunday. “A true General’s General!”
Mattis’ appointment could raise concerns among some congressional lawmakers since the law conditions a civilian becomes secretary of defense, or a military man who had been retired for over seven years.
Congress is expected to make an exception because of Mattis’ widespread popularity on Capitol Hill, as well as a desire among Republicans and Democrats alike.
Trump has also said he was “strongly considering” former Republican Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, for the Housing and Urban Development position.
Carson said on Twitter and Facebook that “I feel that I can make a significant contribution,” and an announcement is “forthcoming.”