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Trump eyeing Nancy Brinker and Kay Bailey Hutchison for UN ambassador, reports say

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis walks with U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 14, 2018. (U.S. NATO / Flickr)
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump reportedly has two of Dallas’ most prominent former residents under consideration for ambassador to the United Nations: Nancy Brinker and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Hungary for two years and later as his White House chief of protocol, responsible for interacting with foreign dignitaries.

The White House reached out to her on Wednesday to ask if she would be open to consideration, according to CNN, citing a Republican source.

Hutchison, the current U.S. ambassador to NATO, served as senator from Texas for two decades. She was at Trump’s side during the western alliance summit in Brussels in July.

Politico reported that outside advisers have urged Trump to put Hutchison on his short list. Axios also reported that her name was being floated to replace Nikki Haley at the UN.

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Haley, a former South Carolina governor, abruptly announced on Tuesday that she would step down in December, after nearly two years in the post.

Aides are urging Trump to replace her with another woman, in time to shore up support from women voters ahead of next month’s midterm elections, Politico said.

A top contender, Dina Powell, a Goldman Sachs executive and top Trump aide during his first year in office, withdrew from consideration citing bad timing for work and family. She was Haley’s top pick and also had the backing of Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to Axios, but faced “considerable internal opposition” from others in the administration.

The current list includes Brinker, former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Kelly Knight Craft, Trump’s ambassador to Canada and, with her husband Joe Craft, a coal executive, a major Republican donor, per Politico. Craft was reportedly at the White House on Thursday to discuss the job.

Brinker founded the Komen foundation and named it in honor of her sister, who died of breast cancer. Brinker herself is a breast cancer survivor. She stepped down as CEO in 2012 during an uproar over the group’s decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.

She lived in Dallas when she was married to restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, then moved to Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is a gathering spot for the wealthy.

Hutchison stepped down in 2012 from the Senate. Sen. Ted Cruz won the seat. During her 20 years in office she became a top GOP expert on defense policy. As a traditional foreign policy hawk, her views don’t always align with Trump’s “America First” rhetoric.

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But that meant that her appointment to the NATO post in Brussels–when fellow Texan Rex Tillerson was still secretary of state–provided enormous reassurance to European allies about the U.S. commitment to the alliance.

Trump had rattled longtime allies with complaints they weren’t paying enough toward their collective defense, and with his apparent soft spot for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

Hutchison made headlines earlier this month by issuing what seemed to be a threat of a military strike regarding Russia’s development of a missile system that seems to violate the Cold War-era Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty. The 1987 treat bans intermediate-range missiles that could strike Europe on short notice.

“We would be looking at the capability to take out a [Russian] missile that could hit any of our countries,” Hutchison told a news conference. “Counter measures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty….They are on notice.”

She quickly clarified that she was “not talking about preemptively striking Russia.”

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©2018 The Dallas Morning News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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