PALM BEACH: Donald Trump chose a Republican critic to join his cabinet on Wednesday, the first woman on his top team after his early picks rewarded campaign loyalists.
Trump’s nomination of South Carolina’s 44-year-old governor, Nikki Haley, as US ambassador to the United Nations will be seen as a sign he is ready to broaden his political base.
It came amid reports that he is also considering former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, another harsh campaign critic, this time for the key post of secretary of state.
And it followed a cordial chat between Trump and the New York Times, a newspaper he considers hostile, in which he softened his stance on climate change, torture and prosecuting his defeated rival Hillary Clinton.
The 70-year-old property tycoon told the Times that he is “seriously, seriously considering” appointing widely-respected retired Marine general James Mattis as his defense secretary.
Trump’s transition team spokesmen told reporters that another “cabinet level” appointment may be made later Wednesday, but offered no details as to who it might be.
The UN ambassador post is of cabinet rank and if Haley — a staunch conservative with no foreign policy experience — is confirmed by the Senate she will become a powerful figure in world diplomacy, despite previously clashing with Trump.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, and the first woman tapped for Trump’s cabinet, Haley will also inject a measure of diversity in a group that until now has consisted solely of white men.
Last year, after a white supremacist murdered nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, Haley supported a decision by legislators to remove the Confederate flag from the state house.-UNS