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President-elect of the United States Donald Trump’s appointment of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to United Nations ambassador would elevate a key loyalist to a top position in the deep red state’s government, which could help Trump complete his takeover of the Republican Party nationally.
South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, a top Trump ally from the beginning of the presidential contests, will become the state’s governor. That means McMaster, according to the local news outlets, will assume the role of governor when Haley vacates the position. He’d be frontrunner for reelection to the governor’s mansion afterwards, putting a Trump loyalist atop the state government in perhaps one of if not the most important states in the union for Trump.
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McMaster’s elevation could box out people such as Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) or Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) from seeking the governor’s mansion, making him an incumbent governor when he would run for reelection in 2018, and solidifies Trump’s control of the Republican Party infrastructure in a state that saw a deeply divided primary earlier this year. Both Gowdy and Scott campaigned alongside Haley for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-SC), a bitter Trump rival, in a battle that was particularly nasty.
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Trump’s move to bring Haley up to the United Nations as ambassador will likely somewhat suture those deep wounds from the primaries—which saw Haley remain a critic, and eventually reluctant supporter, of the president-elect through his landslide victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8—as well.
With a series of appointments like firebrands Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to the Attorney General post and retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn—the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under President Obama—as his National Security Adviser, Trump has offset some establishment concerns with appointments like Haley at the United Nations and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) as CIA director.
Trump seems to be aiming for a mixture of loyalists who come from his populist nationalist background along with establishmentarians he can use to unify the Republican Party and the country after a divisive campaign. He’s also reaching out to top Democrats by speaking kindly about people like incoming Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and meeting with others like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
The Trump administration is shaping up in a way that seemingly dispatches the conventional Washington wisdom of traditional political coalitions and remakes the inner workings of the government in his image.
Trump is also working on rebuilding the Republican Party in a way that more fits his image, rather than the image of ideological rivals like Rubio or House Speaker Paul Ryan. The way the Trump team sees it, sources say, is that the Rubios and Ryans of the world had their chance to win and failed. Ryan was on the ticket four years ago alongside former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and couldn’t deliver Wisconsin to the Republican Party. Trump could deliver Wisconsin, and did, building on Romney’s pickup of North Carolina from the Democrats previously along with other key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Michigan.
The Trump coalition, the future of the GOP, will likely aim to elevate people like McMaster and other true populist nationalist Trump backers while downplaying others like Rubio, Ryan, and others from the losing wing of the GOP. Putting Haley in the government, where her loyalty to the Trump administration agenda will be critical especially in a place like the United Nations, means that team Trump is cleared for takeoff in South Carolina.
Other rumored moves around the administration may have similar multi-faceted impacts—unity of the party and country while allowing Trump running room to remake the party in his image—including the potential appointment of Romney to the Secretary of State position.
Trump is reportedly considering either Romney or former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani to serve as the nation’s top diplomat. Either would come with a variety of advantages and disadvantages, and particularly a Romney selection would be fraught with risk since Romney is independent and strong enough that he may be able to undercut much of Trump’s agenda on the world stage.
But making the move could unify the GOP even more, and hand Trump a level of control over the party he’s not yet had to this day by bringing another of his most ardent critics into the inner circle of allies. Giuliani, on the other hand, would serve as more of a Trump loyalist on the world stage, as the tough-talking New Yorker would likely rarely cross ways with the president-elect’s lofty foreign policy goals.
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