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Contenders for Chief of Staff

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly
By: Fred Lucas – – December 11, 2018

Some seasoned conservatives wonder if President Donald Trump’s choice of a chief of staff actually matters, and they suggest room for a wild card not on the widely reported short list.

“Trump’s chief of staff doesn’t really matter. He’s going to do what he wants to do,” presidential historian Craig Shirley told The Daily Signal. “Donald Trump should pick somebody he will listen to. We don’t know if there is such a person. He is his own chief of staff.”

Most mentioned contenders for the top White House job under Trump include Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus; Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The position can matter greatly, said Shirley, author of four books on President Ronald Reagan, who had four chiefs of staff over eight years.

Three—James Baker, Howard Baker, and Ken Duberstein—were “superb,” Shirley said. However, he described Donald Regan’s tenure in the job as “disastrous.”

Trump’s current chief of staff, John Kelly, is leaving the job at the end of the year. The retired Marine general is the second person to hold the post, replacing Reince Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Although Trump’s overall staff turnover is comparably higher than past presidents, the change in chief of staff for the first two years is not unusual, Shirley said.

“People burn out. A chief of staff deals with the president, the first lady, the entire staff, Capitol Hill, and has to be the guy to say no,” Shirley said.

Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton both had chiefs of staff who stayed in the job for less than two years.

Trump should be willing to trust his chief of staff to handle smaller matters while he handles the big picture, Shirley said.

“Reagan was a master delegator and his two best chiefs of staff, Baker and Baker, were also very good delegators,” he said.

Neither Trump’s first nor second chief of staff was a bad choice, said Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance.

“The chief of staff is not a loyalty reward. This requires an exceptional administrator. Kelly was good at imposing structure,” Meckler told The Daily Signal. “Priebus was good at building a bridge to the Republican establishment. I don’t think either were mistakes.”

Here’s a look at what conservatives think of the leading contenders and wild cards for White House chief of staff.

‘Fearless’ Mark Meadows

Meadows has been mostly supportive of the president’s agenda as head of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative members who vote as a bloc.

“Mark Meadows would make an excellent chief of staff,” Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, told The Daily Signal, adding:

He understands Capitol Hill. He has demonstrated leadership ability with his chairmanship of the House Freedom Caucus. He understands the threats posed to the Trump agenda by congressional Democrats, and he understands how anti-Trumpers at the FBI, Department of Justice, and other places in the federal bureaucracy are determined to block him from implementing his agenda and keeping his campaign promises. And, as he has demonstrated, he is fearless—exactly the combination of skills and attitude that President Trump needs in that position as we move into the 2020 re-election campaign.

The North Carolina Republican may be the most likely choice to put movement conservatives on board, Shirley said.

“Meadows would delight conservatives. It would be a guarantee that conservatives would always get a sympathetic ear,” he said.

However, Meadows and Trump clashed early in the president’s term over the initial proposal to roll back Obamacare. The House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives said the bill didn’t fulfill Republicans’ promise to repeal the unpopular law.

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‘Obvious Choice’: Mick Mulvaney

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Trump Family Choice? Steven Mnuchin

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Trading Jobs? Robert Lighthizer

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From Justice to the White House? Matt Whitaker

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Loyalty Matters: David Bossie

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‘Back in the Fray’ for Newt Gingrich?

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Source: Conservatives on Contenders, Wild Cards for Trump’s Next Chief of Staff

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