May 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden eyes Claire McCaskill for plum Europe ambassadorship

Claire McCaskill
Claire McCaskill campaigning for Senate in 2018. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Sen. Claire McCaskill is under consideration for a plum ambassadorship in western Europe — another sign President Biden will tap party allies over big dollar donors when he starts to name his political ambassadors as soon as next week.

Why it matters: Biden will have political antennae across the globe.

McCaskill is to be joined in the diplomatic corps by Rahm Emanuel, who has been promised ambassador to Japan ... L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, headed for India ... and Tom Nides, Democratic confidant and former deputy SecState, in line for Israel.

  • Cindy McCain is expected to be the ambassador to the World Food Program in Rome.
  • Ken Salazar — President Obama's Interior secretary, and a former senator from Colorado— is preparing to go to Mexico.
  • Nick Burns, a career diplomat, is Biden's likely choice for China.

The intrigue: Biden is also considering former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who endorsed him at the Democratic convention, for an ambassadorship.

  • Former Sen. Chris Dodd turned down an embassy offer, and will instead be available for discreet diplomatic missions as one of Biden’s oldest Senate friends.

The big picture: White House officials are working to ensure that his picks reflect the diversity of the country, meaning that many wealthy white male donors will see their ambassadorial ambitions quashed after a lifetime of giving.

  • Biden will likely draw on political allies and donors for roughly 30% of the 190-ish available ambassadorships.
  • The remaining 70% will go to career foreign service officers.
  • The 70/30 ratio has been the standard for most modern presidents, with the exception of President Trump who nominated political ambassadors for 44% of his openings, according to the American Foreign Service Association.
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