Once considered a posting for politicians trying to revive their fading careers, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations job has become a high-profile springboard to even greater political heights.
"She's made it a very glamorous position," President Trump said of outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, "a more important position."
It was Haley's fearless defense of Trump's foreign policy that provided the space he needed during the first two years of his presidency to alter the global perception of America as "the piggy bank that everybody's robbing," as Trump put it.
Now that former Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell has pulled her name out of consideration, the Beltway rumor mill is working overtime to guess who will serve as the president’s next lion tamer at the UN.
To accomplish Trump's ambitious, yet-unfinished foreign-policy agenda – defanging a nuclear-armed North Korea, thwarting Iran's global revolutionary zeal, and forcing China to respect international norms on fair trade and freedom-of-the-seas – he needs another home run in his selection of Haley's successor.
Insiders say the president is inclined to pick another woman (one senior White House official tells Newsmax it is "100 percent certain") and wants someone who already has security and ethics clearances.
There is also talk he wants to downgrade the job's Cabinet level status. But some strategists worry such a move could be a mistake on the eve of an election where women voters might prove to be the crucial swing vote.
Here are the top 12 candidates:
1. Nancy Brinker, 71, Philanthropist, Former Ambassador to Hungary
Buzz: As the founder of Susan G. Komen, Brinker is a fixture on the global philanthropic scene. In 2008, she was named to Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world; and in August 2009, President Barack Obama presented her with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She also served as ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003, and routinely interacted with foreign dignitaries as the Bush White House's chief of protocol. Politico suggests appointing a woman to replace Haley would help shore up female support for Trump and the GOP.
Pros: Brinker has proven her ability to balance the social and diplomatic aspects of the job, no easy feat. Retired Amb. Eric E. Javits, who has known Brinker for three decades and worked with her in the State Department, says Brinker’s judgment is “careful and prescient on issues, tactics, and strategy.” He adds: “She is a team player who would make an excellent successor to Amb. Haley, and would carry on as our UN Ambassador with the same unvarnished honesty and fearlessness as her predecessor.”
Cons: Brinker is considered one of America's most respected woman and has fans on both sides of the aisle. Would she give up her global status to face a politicized confirmation process?
2. Richard 'Ric' Grenell, 52, U.S. Ambassador to Germany
Buzz: Grenell is experienced, and well-liked and trusted by the president and his populist base.
Pros: As the longest serving spokesman for America's UN mission, having worked under four UN ambassadors, Grenell knows where the bodies are buried at Turtle Bay. The Washington Examiner dubbed him the "family favorite" to succeed Haley.
Cons: He's probably too valuable to shift away from his current post. Trump recently remarked, "Ric Grenell is absolutely someone I would consider, but he's doing so well in Germany. [I'd] rather keep Ric where he is."
3. Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, 50, New Hampshire Republican
Buzz: Ayotte is the former New Hampshire attorney general who lost her Senate re-election bid to former New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who carried the race by the vapor-thin margin of 1,017 votes.
Pros: Ayotte has the gravitas for the job, and is generally respected and well-liked. A former U.S. Senator, courtesy rules might mean a quick confirmation.
Cons: Trump no doubt recalls Ayotte withdrew her endorsement of him about a month before the 2016 election after a tape emerged of him bragging about his advances on women.
4. Bobby Jindal, 47, Former Governor of Louisiana
Buzz: Jindal, the first Indian-American to serve as a U.S. governor, is a cerebral conservative whose 2016 presidential bid never caught on. In a May 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed, he announced he would vote for Trump because, while he was "completely unpredictable," the alternative candidate, Hillary Clinton, was "predictably liberal."
Pros: Jindal served two terms in the House of Representatives and enjoys an excellent reputation.
Cons: As a thoughtful conservative, Jindal's never been completely comfortable with Trump's sometimes abrasive, instinctive political style.
5. Kelly Knight Craft, 56, U.S. ambassador to Canada
Buzz: Considered the "front-runner" for the job, Kelly Craft is current U.S. ambassador to Canada.
Pros: Craft gained hard-won experience and received high praise during the difficult NAFTA renegotiation process, which appears to have come to a successful conclusion.
Cons: The press branded her as a "billionaire Republican donor" when Trump chose her to serve as U.S. ambassador to Canada, and those attacks would presumably intensify if she is named to replace Haley.
6, Jamie McCourt, 64, Ambassador to France
Buzz: McCourt has strong ties to Trump's campaign: The former CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers served as his California co-chair during the campaign.
Pros: Administration officials like McCourt because, as ambassador to France, she is a proven quantity. A senior administration official told Politico: "It's so hard to get a security clearance, so there's a bias to get someone who is already in the system."
Cons: McCourt is less experienced than Kelly Knight Craft, the other female current ambassador under consideration. Craft served as an alternative UN delegate under then-President George W. Bush.
7. Kay Bailey Hutchison, 75, Texas Republican
Buzz: After 20 years in the Senate, Hutchison should be a breeze for winning confirmation. As Trump's Permanent U.S. Representative to NATO, she also has established the foreign policy expertise necessary for the job.
Pros: Considered the administration's most outspoken female official, with another high-profile woman, Hutchison would bring a formidable blend of charm, intelligence, and "Don't Mess With Texas" toughness to the UN.
Cons: Due in part to her opposition while in the Senate to GOP efforts to filibuster the Affordable Care Act, Hutchison is not beloved by some factions of Trump's populist base. But that should not affect her ability to represent U.S. interests at the UN.
8. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, 76, Connecticut Independent Democrat
Buzz: Lieberman is highly regarded in international policy circles – and in the West Wing. Last year, the president asked him to consider becoming director of the FBI before the appointment went to current FBI chief Christopher Wray. Lieberman told Fox Business Network host Neil Cavuto on Thursday: "If there was any real interest in asking me to consider this, of course I would. But I'm very happy where I am now, and I'm not yearning for anything else."
Pros: His commitment to U.S. strength and the nation of Israel dovetail nicely with Trump's agenda.
Cons: He might face surprising criticism from once close Senate Democrats and media allies who will not want to see Joe Lieberman on Donald Trump's ticket.
9. Paula J. Dobriansky, 63, senior fellow, Belfer Center Future of Diplomacy, Harvard University
Buzz: No one would arrive at UN headquarters with a deeper resume than Dobriansky, who served in a variety of foreign-policy roles for five U.S. presidents, starting with almost eight years on Reagan's NSC. She later became Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs under George W. Bush.
Pros: An early Trump supporter in the 2016 campaign, press reports said she was slated for a high-level State Department post. Already vetted, she would be ready to start immediately, with a full grasp of the global players while having the president's back on his America First agenda.
Cons: Some Trump supporters might view her as a "Bushie" – but her record and policy views most closely mirror her mentor Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump than W.
10. Christopher Bancroft Burnham, chairman and founder, Cambridge Global Capital
Buzz: New York Post columnist Benny Avni spotlighted Burnham late Friday as a leading candidate to replace Haley.
Pros: A Marine Corps officer for over two decades, Burnham a top adviser to Trump's post-election transition team. He previously served as under secretary of state for management for then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice, and was the State Department's chief financial officer under Gen. Colin Powell.
Cons: Avni says Burnham would continue Haley's work of keeping the world body accountable, and sees only one drawback to his candidacy, writing: ". . . It's a position that could well be decided largely by a candidate's gender."
11. Heather Nauert, 48, State Department Spokesperson
Buzz: Most D.C. wags assume Nauert, the former Fox host whose winsome brush-offs of the media have made her a West Wing favorite, is being groomed to replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she is finally tired of wrangling the White House press corps. But Nauert's experience at State could be leveraged to serve as America's UN ambassador as well.
Pros: Nauert would be a sharp rhetorical defender of Trump's confrontational approach to global affairs.
Cons: It remains to be seen if she is quite ready to step out onto the global political stage.
12. Kevin Moley, 70, assistant secretary of state for International Organizations
Buzz: Newsmax White House Correspondent John Gizzi reports Moley is a favorite of State Department insiders. He is a decorated U.S. Marine and former head of the Project Concern International aid group.
Pros: Tremendous experience, having previously served as President George W. Bush's top representative to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. His low-key personality would probably better complement Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with whom Haley occasionally clashed.
Cons: Trump supporters who mistrust the U.S. foreign-policy establishment might balk.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.