WASHINGTON — Donald Trump is going with a former critic for a key foreign policy post, picking South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The president-elect has also picked Betsy DeVos, a businesswoman and charter school advocate from Michigan, to be his secretary of Education, DeVos said in a tweet posted early Wednesday afternoon.
“I am honored to work with the president-elect on his vision to make American education great again,” DeVos said.
And former Republican primary rival Ben Carson, mentioned as a possible pick for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said on Twitter and Facebook that “I feel that I can make a significant contribution,” and an announcement is “forthcoming.”
In announcing his nomination of Haley to the U.N., Trump said the South Carolina governor “has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country — she is also a proven deal-maker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
Trump has also said he was “strongly considering” Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, for the HUD slot.
Haley, 44, who won election to the governor’s post as part of the Tea Party wave in 2010, criticized Trump throughout the Republican nomination campaign and endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during the South Carolina primary. After Rubio dropped out, Haley backed Trump opponent Ted Cruz.
Haley — who must be confirmed by the Senate — said she was honored by Trump’s selection of her as U.N. ambassador.
“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally,” she said in a statement put out by the Trump transition team.
Earlier this year, Haley called Trump one of the “angriest voices” in politics and criticized his “irresponsible talk,” including the candidate’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States. At one point in the campaign, she tweeted: “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK.”
Trump returned the favor, tweeting on March 1: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!” (Haley replied, also on Twitter: “Bless your heart.”)
As U.N. ambassador, Haley would be given Cabinet rank, officials said.
South Carolina Republicans praised the selection of their two-term governor.
Bruce Haynes, a GOP consultant who hails from South Carolina, called Haley “one of the brightest and hardest working leaders in the Republican Party,” and said she will be “an incredibly valuable addition” to the Trump administration.
While she and Trump have differences, “people forget Haley rose to stardom as an anti-establishment candidate, a young state senator who beat older more experienced Republican candidates to become governor,” said Haynes, a founding partner of the Washington-based Purple Strategies firm. “So while she has been critical of Trump at times, she’s a fellow political outsider.”
Haynes also noted that Trump’s latest appointment “signals a step toward diversity in age, gender, race and points of view.”
As a woman and daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley would bring a dash of diversity to Trump’s appointments, which so far have uniformly consisted of white males.
In a statement released by her office in South Carolina, Haley said she was proud to have been elected governor twice and cited accomplishments made during her tenure, including bringing jobs to the state, reforming education and ethics reform.
Trump had interviewed Haley for secretary of State. Among other candidates for that top diplomatic post: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Other announcements are expected Wednesday, though officials would not confirm what they might be.
The New York businessman has also spoken highly of retired Gen. James Mattis, a top candidate for the secretary of defense slot.
The president-elect is spending Wednesday and the Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida.
Haley has little foreign policy experience, but supporters noted she has traveled abroad at least eight times during her two terms as South Carolina governor. Her husband Michael was deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in 2013 as a member of the Army National Guard. The couple have two children: Rena, 18, and Nalin, 15.
Born in Bamberg, S.C., the Clemson University graduate was a business owner who served in the state legislature before becoming South Carolina’s first female governor, the youngest in the nation.
If the Senate confirms Haley as U.N. ambassador, she would be replaced as South Carolina governor by Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster — a prominent supporter of Trump.