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India-friendly Gingrich in Trump cabinet speculation

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who emerged as an early and vociferous supporter of Donald Trump, appears to be on the shortlist for the all-powerful position of US secretary of state.

us presidential election Updated: Nov 08, 2016 00:53 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
US elections 2016,Donald Trump,former speaker Newt Gingrich
File photo of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during a campaign stop in Ohio. (AFP)

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, wants no part in it as he is superstitious about getting ahead of events, but he can’t stop others, even his own campaign, from speculating who his cabinet members will be should he win.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who emerged as an early and vociferous supporter, appears to be on the shortlist for the all-powerful position as the country’s top diplomat, the secretary of state, according to an NBC news report.

That should be good news for India, if it happens. Gingrich has been an outspoken supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and told reporters on the sidelines of the Republican party convention in July that Modi and Trump are a natural fit.

Gingrich is also honorary chairman of the Hindu Republican Coalition, a pressure group that its founding chairman Shalabh Kumar, a Chicago businessman, says was inspired and blessed by the powerful Jewish Republican Coalition.

Some Indian Americans are trying to promote former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal for the position of secretary of state. But campaign insiders averred that was a “dead-on-arrival” idea, given Jindal’s desire to not be associated with the community.

Gingrich has much more going for him — he was on Trump’s shortlist for running mate, with governor Chris Christie. They lost to Indiana governor Mike Pence, but remain close to Trump, and often find themselves in the role of truth-tellers.

Christie also heads Trump’s transition team, which will select nearly 3,000 political appointees that come and go with the president, but has shunned the limelight lately because of a controversy regarding his New Jersey administration.

Former US general Michael Flynn, who took early retirement from the government — some say he was pushed out — and has been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama, will likely be Trump’s defence secretary, according to the same report.

Flynn has been Trump’s top surrogate on defence and national security issues, of which the nominee has displayed little or no understanding. He has also been speculated about as the National Security Adviser, a powerful White House position.

Rudy Giuliani, who became known across the world as mayor of New York city at the time of the September 11 attacks, could be Trump’s attorney general. He is a former prosecutor and has emerged as Trump’s top dirty-tricks man.

The campaign has banked on Giuliani to reprise right-wing conspiracies, completely bereft of facts, from Hillary Clinton’s health to her impending indictment. He has also played the role of a travelling baby-sitter to Trump, keeping him focussed.

Trump campaign finance committee chairman Steve Munchin could land the position of treasury secretary, with the task of implementing his leading campaign promise to go after China for currency manipulation.

Reince Priebus, the Republican national committee chairman who is said to have gained the trust of Trump, was cited as a contender for the position of chief of staff, a powerful White House position controlling access to the president.

Asked for comments, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks told NBC “none of it was accurate”, and that Trump had not given cabinet formation much thought as “he is entirely focused on the campaign and the American people”.

First Published: Nov 07, 2016 22:03 IST