As ambassadors, Team Biden sees McCain, Flake
Biden administration officials, including Cindy McCain and former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, are weighing appointing influential Republicans to ambassadorships to demonstrate the significance of bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy, according to individuals who are familiar with their thoughts.
Why it matters: President Biden has not put in his Cabinet any Republicans, but a move like this will symbolize a return to the Truman-era adage that “at the water’s edge.” partisan politics ceases.
It will also signal that the Trump age is over for other countries, and Biden speaks for all Americans, not just Democrats.
Furthermore, the possible appointments of two Republicans from Arizona who disagreed with former President Trump and supported Biden might raise Democrats, suggesting a big-tent strategy by some 10,000 votes in a once-red state that the new president won.
Biden aides say that mentioning either name is premature, and no decisions regarding ambassadorships have been made.
What we’re hearing: For the United Kingdom, McCain, Sen. John McCain’s widow, was addressed, while for South Africa, Flake was listed, as well as posts in Europe.
Competition for plum ambassadorships will be intense, especially in Western Europe, with officials from Biden already indicating that they will not nominate as many donors as previous presidents.
Cindy McCain, who during a speech at the Democratic National Convention testified to Biden’s strengths, is likely to end up with an ambassadorship of some kind, while London is not assured.
She has been a popular Republican figure herself nationally, in addition to being the spouse of the 2008 Republican presidential candidate.
As a conventional Republican, Flake cast himself and emerged as a Trump critic. He worked in South Africa as well as Zimbabwe as a Mormon missionary.
How it works: Steve Ricchetti, the president’s advisor, helps oversee the process, determining how to reward different supporters and donors, organizations usually running for ambassadorships.
The process is speeding now that Tony Blinken has been installed as Secretary of State, but final decisions on who gets what are weeks away.
In November, British media speculated on McCain’s likelihood of going to London, but those talks are more advanced now.