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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Biden administration officials are weighing nominating prominent Republicans to ambassadorships — including Cindy McCain and former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake — to highlight the importance of bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy, according to people familiar with their thoughts.

Why it matters: President Biden hasn't put any Republicans in his Cabinet, but a move like this would symbolize a return to the Truman-era adage that partisan politics stops "at the water's edge."

  • It also would signal to other nations the Trump era is over, and Biden speaks for all Americans, not just Democrats.
  • In addition, the potential nominations of two Arizona Republicans who clashed with former President Trump and endorsed Biden could boost Democrats, signaling a big-tent approach in a once-red state the new president won by some 10,000 votes.
  • Biden aides say it's premature to discuss either name, and no decisions have been made about ambassadorships.

What we are hearing: McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, has been discussed for the United Kingdom, while Flake has been mentioned for South Africa, as well as postings in Europe.

  • Competition for plum ambassadorships, especially in Western Europe, will be intense, with Biden officials already hinting they won’t appoint as many donors as previous presidents.
  • Cindy McCain, who testified to Biden's strengths during a speech at the Democratic National Convention, is likely to end up with an ambassadorship of some kind, though London isn't guaranteed.
  • In addition to being the spouse of the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, she has been a prominent Republican figure herself nationally.
  • Flake cast himself as a traditional Republican and emerged as a critic of Trump. He served as a Mormon missionary to South Africa as well as Zimbabwe.

How it works: Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, is helping manage the process, deciding how to reward various supporters and donors, groups that are typically in the running for ambassadorships.

  • Now that Tony Blinken has been installed as secretary of State, that process is accelerating, but final decisions about who gets what are weeks away.
  • British media reported on the possibility of McCain heading to London in November, but those discussions are more advanced now.

Go deeper

Republicans face party punishment back home for questioning Trump's role in Capitol attack

Sen. Bill Cassidy. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Republicans in Congress are facing backlash in their home states for questioning former President Donald Trump's involvement in the Jan 6. assault on the U.S. Capitol.

The big picture: State and county Republican apparatuses throughout the country are punishing those in their own party who want to hold the former president accountable, signaling that Trump's grasp on the GOP remains unfaded.

Biden holds first call as president with China's Xi Jinping

Biden and Xi in 2012, when both were serving as vice president. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty

President Biden on Wednesday evening held his first call with Chinese President Xi Jinping since taking office, raising thorny issues including human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The big picture: Ahead of the call, senior administration officials offered reporters the most detailed portrait to date of Biden’s policies toward China, and how they will build on — and diverge from — Donald Trump’s approach.

Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low

Expand chart
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Coronavirus infections in the U.S. are now at their lowest levels in seven months, thanks to the vaccines.

The big picture: The vaccines are turning the tide in America's battle with the coronavirus. Deaths and serious illnesses have dropped significantly, and now cases are falling too — an important piece of protection for the future, if we can keep it up.