South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr) (CC-BY-SA)

Donald Trump’s administration is angling to include a woman of color — a former critic — among its highest ranks. On Wednesday, Trump tapped South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley came down hard on Trump during his campaign phase, declaring at one point that she was “not a fan” of either him or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. She also commented, as The Washington Post noted, about “the angriest voices” in the political arena putting out a “siren call” to voters in the runup to the presidential election — a not-so-subtle dig at her party’s famously bombastic presidential pick. Post-election, she told the news media she had been “friends” with Trump previously and that he had supported her before becoming a candidate.

Here’s more about Haley from The Washington Post:

Haley’s nomination marks Trump’s first female appointment to a Cabinet-level post and comes as his advisers are seeking to diversify the incoming administration’s ranks. Haley, a former Trump critic, is generally considered a mainstream Republican, with views on military and national security matters that fall within the GOP’s hawkish mainstream. She has little foreign policy experience.

“Governor Haley has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country,” Trump said in a statement. “She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

Haley, who has accepted the offer, said she is “honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love.’’

Her words represented a sharp departure from the campaign, during which she initially backed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for the GOP nomination and lambasted Trump as “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.”

Though Haley is considered more of an establishment Republican than other members of Trump’s innermost circle, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told the paper that her views line up with the president-elect’s on an issue that Trump made central to his campaign. “Governor Haley and her family fully understand what is at stake in the war against radical Islam. I know she will be a valuable ally to President-elect Trump,” Graham commented.

That said, Haley took a firm stance that broke with some party hard liners in her insistence, after the racially motivated 2015 shooting deaths in a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., that the Confederate flag be taken down at the state capitol in Columbia.

If the Senate approves the appointment, Haley will be replacing current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power. In turn, Haley would be replaced in her statehouse by Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster.

Trump is also keeping his critics close by entertaining — and by that we mean using show-business tactics to keep the press and Americans guessing — Mitt Romney as a possibility for secretary of state. That notion apparently doesn’t sit well with one of the president-elect’s steady supporters, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who joins fellow Trump booster and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in questioning Romney’s loyalty (per Politico):

“It’s not about that I don’t care for Mitt personally, but I’m still very unhappy that Mitt did everything he could to derail Donald Trump,” Huckabee told Fox News. “He didn’t just go after him from a standpoint of saying I disagree with his policy on immigration or I disagree with his policy on taxes. He attacked him on a personal level about his character, integrity, his honor.”

The president-elect is looking at both Romney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani for secretary of state, but the search for that post could still broaden. It does not appear that a final decision is imminent, even though Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller said on Wednesday that Trump is spending “significant time” on the deliberations.

Romney delivered a blistering speech in March in Salt Lake City in which he called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud.” He also tried to pick a convention floor fight, boldly calling on voters to cast their primary ballot for whatever Republican had a chance to beat Trump in their state.

He also used his speech to warn of the dangers of a Trump administration, mocking his business acumen — “A business genius he is not,” Romney said — and blasting his “flimsy at best” policies. He also described his foreign policy chops as “very, very not smart,” and said that “dishonesty” was the hallmark of his campaign.

Trump, who had repeatedly dismissed Romney as a failed candidate, immediately returned fire, saying Romney was a “choke artist” who begged for his endorsement and would have “dropped to his knees” had he asked him to.

Bygones — maybe. But even more surprising to Americans claiming fealty to both major and various third parties, not to mention no party, is the news that Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who stumped vigorously for Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primary season, could also be in the running for a position in the Trump White House.

As the future president continues to populate his administration, he is also said to be taking a particularly close look at retired Gen. James Mattis, with a mind to making him secretary of defense. And despite earlier comments from Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon is reportedly on the brink of being summoned to put “these hands” back to work as the nation’s next secretary of housing and urban development.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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