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President-elect Donald Trump tapped South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on Wednesday to be the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman he has named to his Cabinet.
The 44-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants is serving her second term as governor of the mid-Atlantic state, but has no foreign policy experience. She is Trump’s first Cabinet pick who is not a white man.
In naming her, Trump cited her seven overseas trade missions for South Carolina and negotiations with international companies.
“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,” Trump said in a statement. “She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
Haley did not support Trump during the months-long process that ended with him as the Republican Party’s nominee for president. She initially backed Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and when he dropped out of the race, she shifted her support to Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Shortly before the November 8 election, she said that she was not enthusiastic about the choices to take over the White House when President Barack Obama’s term ends in January, but that she would vote for Trump.
She criticized his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States and used the national platform giving the Republican Party’s response to Obama’s last State of the Union address to rebuke Trump’s style by saying, “Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference.”
Trump called her “weak on immigration” and in March wrote on Twitter, “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!”
The two met last week in New York where Trump has been interviewing potential Cabinet members to join his new government.
In addition to Haley, he has picked Republican party chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon as chief White House strategist, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Congressman Mike Pompeo to lead the Central Intelligence Agency and retired Army General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
Trump eyes Carson for HUD
Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and another Republican presidential candidate Trump defeated, said he has been offered a Cabinet position as housing and urban development chief, but it is not clear whether he plans to accept. The president-elect described Carson as “a greatly talented person who loves people.”
Like Haley, other Republican party figures were lukewarm at best to Trump’s candidacy before backing him against Clinton. Among his critics was House Speaker Paul Ryan, who now is celebrating Trump’s victory and the opportunity for Republicans to control both houses of Congress and the White House.
On Tuesday, Trump told a meeting of reporters and editors at The New York Timesthat party leaders are “loving” him.
“Paul Ryan right now loves me, [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell loves me, it’s amazing how winning can change things,” he said.
Trump also touted the field of people he is considering for key positions in his government, including the possible appointment of another one-time critic, 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as secretary of state.
“We have many people for every job,” Trump said. “I mean no matter what the job is, we have many incredible people.”
Trump also told the Times he is “seriously” considering retired General James Mattis as his secretary of defense.
Most recent presidents have not named their most high profile cabinet nominees — secretaries of state, defense, treasury and attorney general — until sometime in December. Obama did so by December 1 after his first election in 2008, while his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton waited until the last week in December.
Trump’s inauguration is set for January 20.