Is Giuliani the right man to be Trump's bridge with the rest of the world?

The former mayor of New York City is considered the leading candidate for secretary of State even though he lacks the foreign policy experience of others being considered for the job. 

Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Rudy Giuliani, vice chairman of the Trump Presidential Transition Team, speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, Nov. 14, 2016. Mr. Giuliani is considered the frontrunner for secretary of State under President-elect Donald Trump.

After promoting an “America First” approach throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump is considering a friend and former mayor of New York City to steer his foreign policy.

Rudolph "Rudy" Giuliani is the leading candidate for secretary of State in the Trump administration, according to numerous sources. John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations for former President George W. Bush, is also in the conversation.

Cabinet members play a key role for any president to advance their policies. Assuming Mr. Trump's foreign policy mirrors the attitudes he espoused on the campaign trail, his secretary of State would need to shoulder the heavy task of clarifying renegotiating the United States’s relationship with other nations and the UN, as well as overhauling its longstanding interactions with allies and adversaries.

Right now, Trump and his transition team appear to be choosing between a friend in Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Bolton, a hawk with diplomatic experience but a different view of America’s role in the world than Trump's.

Giuliani indicated on Monday he and Bolton are being considered for the top diplomatic post. Giuliani said Bolton would be a good choice, but when if there was a better one, he replied, "Maybe me, I don’t know."

Giuliani is known for his law enforcement and homeland security background. He was the mayor of New York City from 1994 through 2001, leading the city in the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers, and working closely with then-President Bush. He was also a US attorney.

In 2006, he was placed on an “Iraq Study Group,” a congressional effort to stabilize Iraq, according to The Wall Street Journal. Giuliani stepped down after two months because, he later said, he felt his presence in the group could have made it overly partisan. In the 2008 presidential election, he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination.  

Whomever Trump taps for secretary of State is expected to have to re-craft America’s century-long belief in participation and leadership on the world stage, political analysts say. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump questioned both the cost of military interventions abroad and US commitments to treaty allies that don’t pay their share.

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City from 2001 through 2013, was floated by Hillary Clinton's team as a possible secretary of State, but he was judged to lack the necessary foreign policy chops, according to leaked emails between his aide and a Clinton contact.

Bolton has a much a longer foreign affairs resume than Giuliani. In addition to being a UN ambassador, he was undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. He has also frequently provided foreign policy advice to Republican presidential candidates, reported the Journal.

But he has promoted a hawkish approach to foreign policy that is out of sync with some of Trump’s campaign statements. Bolton has called on the US to bomb Iran and abandon its deal over Iran’s nuclear program. He is also staunchly against any negotiations with North Korea over nuclear weapons.

Then again, Trump’s foreign policy approach is fluid. At times, the president-elect has argued for global engagement. He urged for mobilization of US resources to fight global Islamic terrorism and derided the Obama administration for letting the Middle East collapse.

There is also international precedent for an appointment like Giuliani. Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Boris Johnson – the former mayor of London, and a face of the “Leave” campaign to withdraw from the European Union – to foreign secretary. Some world leaders balked at Mr. Johnson’s appointment, citing his many provocative comments.

The Trump transition team has two months to make a final decision, and other candidates could yet emerge.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.  

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