The president-elect is in no hurry to choose his top diplomat, people close to the transition say.
President-elect Donald Trump is no closer to choosing his secretary of state, but he is making the most of auditions — as suitors sell themselves on television and in private Trump Tower sessions — that have become the kind of public spectacle that Trump relishes.
After initially narrowing his list to four finalists, Trump expanded it anew over the weekend, with interview invitations given to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and retired Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis for this week.
Those are in addition to the previous top contenders: Mitt Romney, whom Trump has met with twice, Trump adviser and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gen. David Petraeus, and current Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker, although three transition sources said Corker’s chances have diminished in recent days.
“It is true that he’s broadened the search,” former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told reporters Sunday.
Trump is looking to slow the process down by bringing in new faces, one transition official said — and buy himself time for a decision that multiple sources close to the president-elect said he views as one of the most consequential of his pre-presidency.
“He has way too many people whispering in his ear and he knows it and he doesn’t want to capitulate. He has many good choices; he just doesn’t have a choice,” this person said. “There’s got to be someone out there that can dazzle and wow. I just don’t think we’ve found that person.”
It helps that the prolonged spectacle has done nothing to damage Trump. Instead, it has shown a diversity of talent — top military, business and governmental officials alike — willing to humble themselves to work for him, including loyalists (Giuliani), outspoken critics (Romney) and those who didn’t vote at all (Petraeus).