U.S. President-elect Donald Trump Chooses Ben Carson as Housing and Urban Development Secretary

He has not yet named a secretary of state, and that search has widened after high-profile meetings with four top candidates

FILE - Dr. Ben Carson, center, waits for the the third debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the third presidential at UNLV in Las Vegas. VOA

December 05, 2016: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former neurosurgeon and rival for the Republican Party nomination Ben Carson as his nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A statement Monday from the Trump transition office says Carson “is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” and that the two men have discussed Trump’s “message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.”

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Since Trump took over the lead in national polls in the Republican race in July 2015, Carson was the only candidate in the crowded field to knock him into second place. But that surge lasted only a few days before Carson’s popularity plummeted.

Carson dropped out of the race in March and threw his support behind Trump. He went on to get one of the speaking slots at the convention where Republicans formally nominated Trump as their candidate to face Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Since defeating Clinton last month, Trump has been working to fill out the members of his Cabinet, who must be approved by the Republican-led Senate.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 25, 2016. VOA
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 25, 2016. VOA

Secretary of state search

He has not yet named a secretary of state, and that search has widened after high-profile meetings with four top candidates did not result in a decision.

“It is true that he’s broadened the search, and the secretary of state is an incredibly important position for any president,” Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told reporters at Trump Tower in New York Sunday. She said “a very full slate of meetings” was set to begin Monday to fill the remaining Cabinet positions.

Last week, the Trump team mentioned four men as the top contenders: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Army general and former CIA director David Petraeus and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

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Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton also met with Trump on Friday, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence included Bolton’s name in a list of possible secretaries of state Sunday.

Former Utah governor and ex-ambassador to Beijing Jon Huntsman is in the mix, according to CNN, while other news reports said Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is also being considered.

As the list expands, one of the top candidates, Petraeus, appeared on ABC’s This Week to express his interest in the job.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Middle East policy, Sept. 22, 2015. VOA
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Middle East policy, Sept. 22, 2015. VOA

Petraeus, who resigned in disgrace as head of the CIA in 2012, said Sunday he’s paid for his mistakes and was ready to become Trump’s chief diplomat.

“I have acknowledged for a number for years that five years ago I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it, I apologized for it, I have paid a heavy price for it and I have learned from it,” he said.

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Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of giving journals containing state secrets to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence praised Petraeus as “an American hero” on NBC’s Meet the Press, adding that he “made mistakes and he paid for his mistakes.”

Trump “will factor the totality of general Petraeus’s career in making this decision,” Pence said. (VOA)

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