Reactions to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State

Reactions to President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state pick are pouring in following Trump’s announcement Tuesday to offer the job to Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil.

Here is what a few leaders have to say:

Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy President:

“I have misgivings about [Tillerson’s nomination].”

“There’s much that commends Tillerson to us all, in terms of the obvious attributes: a skilled executive, you need that in an unruly department like the State Department; a man who knows the world, indisputably; a man who has an intimate knowledge of lots of the trouble spots and foreign leaders with whom this country is going to have to be engaged, in some form or fashion.”

“That said, some of those qualities or attributes, if you will, are potentially problematic.”

“He has said he has a very close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin. One of the few things that has been of concern to many of us in the pro-Trump-foreign policy community has been some of the statements he’s made over the course of the campaign about how he views Putin, how he views the opportunity to work with Putin, how he has sort of envisioned a – well, to coin a phrase, a ‘reset’ with Russia. And this would be the man to do that; I think there’s very little doubt about it.” Breitbart News Daily

Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State:

“Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America’s special role in the world.

“I know Rex as a successful businessman and a patriot. He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication.

“I look forward to supporting Rex through the confirmation process and then welcoming him to the family of Secretaries of State.”

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE):

“Mr. Tillerson has been for decades working at and most recently helping lead the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company and that certainly gives him a deep and broad experience.”

“There are real differences between negotiating an oil contract, an oil exploration drilling contract in the Arctic with Vladimir Putin, and standing up for, fighting for core American values.”

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense:

“I strongly endorse the President-elect’s selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State. He would bring to the position vast knowledge, experience and success in dealing with dozens of governments and leaders in every corner of the world. He is a person of great integrity whose only goal in office would be to protect and advance the interests of the United States. I know this Eagle Scout will be a global champion of the best values of our country.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney:

“The selection of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State is an inspired choice. I’ve known Rex for many years both in his role as the Chairman and CEO of Exxon and as a personal friend. He has the vast experience, ability, and judgment to deal with the very dangerous world we find confronting us. His extensive knowledge of the global situation will be an asset in representing our nation. As the Chairman and CEO of Exxon, he has operated in nations all over the globe, and managed one of our largest corporations. I’m confident that he will do a superb job promoting our national interests in dealing with the complex and difficult choices that are on the agenda for the next administration.”

Matthew Boyle, Breitbart News’ Washington, D.C. Editor

“Tillerson has a history of supporting policies opposite to many of the themes the president-elect highlighted during his campaign, including on Common Core education standards, using sanctions to enact foreign policy objectives, carbon tax, climate change, and on global trade and energy policy.” Breitbart News

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

“Rex Tillerson’s decades of experience have been widely recognized for forward-looking strategic planning, managing international partnerships and risk, and focused leadership around the world.

“As resident-elect Trump’s choice for nomination for Secretary of State, he will bring this critical skills, knowledge and capabilities into an important role after eight years of the Obama administration’s uncertain leadership.

“We need a full review of our national security policy, and I know Rex will face each problem head on with American interests and security as his top priority. I look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush:

“It is a strong choice. Mr. Tillerson has broad experience and established relationships throughout the world. They will be of enormous value as the new administration develops its foreign policy strategy and approach.”

Robert Charles, former Assistant Secretary of State:

“Another fascinating, deep, insightful choice – Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.  What should every American know about this selection?  A few things they may not have heard yet. Exxon’s Chairman and CEO, Rex Tillerson is another novel choice, as edgy in diplomacy as he is proven in business. … What is the take-away from this savvy appointment?  A new professionalism is in the air – and it’s about time.  Whatever friction he may encounter in the wind tunnel of change, he is likely to do well, and bring a perspective not often seen in the Capitol.” Fox News

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ):

“The fact that Condi Rice, James Baker and Bob Gates are recommending Tillerson carries considerable weight. I look forward to the hearings.”

Jeff Immelt, CEO General Electric:

“I applaud the President-Elect for his choice of Rex Tillerson for the role of Secretary of State. I have worked closely with Rex on significant projects all over the world. As the leader of Exxon Mobil, a truly global American company, Rex has an exceptional understanding of our country’s essential and strategic role in the world.  More importantly, he has a contemporary, ground-level view of our most important relationships. He is highly respected, well-travelled, a great negotiator and smart.”

Suzanne Maloney, Brookings Institution:

“In today’s competitive and interconnected world, leading a major multinational corporation requires many of the same skills as diplomacy: immersion in global politics and culture, keen capacity for assessing threats and opportunities, competence in managing bureaucracies as well as unforeseen crises.

“Great diplomats have come from many walks of life. Although the Foreign Service may be the primary incubator, many brilliant statesmen began their careers elsewhere. James Baker, George H.W. Bush ’s secretary of state, was a lawyer. My current boss, Strobe Talbott, was a journalist before serving as deputy secretary of state during the Clinton administration. If nominated and confirmed, Mr. Tillerson could turn out to be another example.”

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (R-TN):

“Mr. Tillerson is a very impressive individual and has an extraordinary working knowledge of the world. I congratulate him on his nomination and look forward to meeting with him and chairing his confirmation hearing.”

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI):

“Tillerson nom adds another world-class player to impressive team. I look forward to meeting, discussing enormous global challenges we face.”

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX):

“Rex Tillerson’s successful tenure leading a large multinational corporation reflects a keen ability to navigate complex geopolitical issues across the globe. His experience will be critical as the next Secretary of State will face a broad array of diplomatic challenges that will define the security and success of our nation for generations. A lifelong Texan, I’ve long valued Rex’s insight and look forward to supporting his nomination.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI):

“Congratulations to Rex Tillerson, a proven leader and person of enormous accomplishment.”

Newt Gingrich:

“Getting Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State is a great achievement by President elect Trump. He will help make America great again.”

Jim DeMint, Heritage Foundation President:

“For too long, the United States has acted from a position of weakness on the world stage, and Mr. Tillerson must work to reverse this dangerous decline. The Trump administration has the opportunity to reinvigorate American leadership abroad by projecting the strength and stability that have been the bedrock of our diplomacy for more than two centuries. Mr. Tillerson must defend American interests, stand resolute in the face of challenges from adversarial powers such as Russia, Iran and China, and reassure our allies that the United States will continue to stand with them in an increasingly dangerous and complex world.”

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee:

“I trust President-elect Trump to assemble the team that he is confident will give America our strongest ability to restore America’s greatness. His selection of Rex Tillerson is another example of recruiting people of extraordinary skill and accomplishment.  How refreshing to have people with real world success rather than simply rounding up some academics with big ideas but very small accomplishments.  Think tank theorists are useful to design the craft, but to complete the mission, we need people who have actually flown the craft.”

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III:

“Rex Tillerson, who is a friend of mine, is an excellent choice to head the State Department and has an opportunity to be a very effective Secretary of State. As CEO head of one of the world’s largest and best-run companies, (he) has demonstrated the management and negotiating skills, and has the international experience, that are required for the job. Further, I am confident he will understand the global challenges facing the United States and has the intellect the address them. I first expressed my support for Tillerson’s nomination to members of President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team on Monday afternoon, Dec. 12, when they reached out to me about the possibility of a Tillerson nomination.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: 

“In the interview with WJLH, Bush also praised Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, saying the Exxon Mobile CEO has ‘vast experience.’ He called Tillerson a ‘patriot’ who will ‘represent the interests of United States really, really well. But (the Senate) will have the chance to discuss all these things in an opening hearing. That’s how the process works.’” Tampa Bay Times

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK):

“I am pleased by President-elect Trump’s announcement to nominate Rex Tillerson to be our Secretary of State,” Inhofe said.  “I have known Rex for years and think he will be great for this position. He is an accomplished leader who has proven himself on the world stage as ExxonMobil’s CEO. His business acumen will provide a welcomed, fresh look at how the State Department conducts its business, and I am confident he will leverage our global leadership position to strengthen the United States and our allies around the world. I look forward to discussing my national security concerns with him and working closely with him in the coming years.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA):

“Mr. Tillerson has an impressive background with unique experience and extensive knowledge of working in a global environment. I congratulate Mr. Tillerson on his nomination, and I look forward to meeting with him during the confirmation process to learn more about how he views the world and America’s national interests.”

Senator James Lankford (R-OK):

“Rex Tillerson’s philosophy on international religious freedom, Middle East instability, foreign assistance and relations with countries like Russia and China must be closely examined before confirmation.”

Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX):

“I commend President-Elect Trump on his nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. This prominent position in the Administration is tasked with the delicate balance of working to ease tensions around the globe while also ensuring U.S. national security and a strong foreign policy agenda. Mr. Tillerson, a constituent on mine in the 26th district of Texas, has worked extensively with foreign leaders cultivating relationships that will only prove to benefit U.S. interest around the world. From the pipelines to platforms, his experience leading the global efforts of one of America’s most successful companies has equipped him with the understanding and insight to navigate the current world stage. Congratulations to Mr. Tillerson on this honorable nomination.”

Andrew Bowen, American Enterprise Institute:

“Rex Tillerson Is A Strong Choice To Be America’s Next Top Diplomat.” Newsweek

American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard:

“Rex Tillerson is world class. He has decades of experience working with global leaders and overseeing the creation of thousands of jobs He understands that American voters want to strengthen our national security, grow jobs, and protect American interests globally.

“As our nation’s next top diplomat, Rex has the strategic experience to effectively represent the new administration and the American people. He runs one of the largest companies in the world that operates in more than 50 countries, oversees over 75,000 employees, and he has first-hand experience working on international issues. His relationships and in particular those with other nations will help further advance U.S. interests across the globe.

“We congratulate Rex on being nominated and look forward to working with him, the incoming administration, and the new Congress on common sense policies that protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen our economy.”

Senator David Perdue (R-GA)chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the State Department and USAID Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development:

“While this may seem like a nontraditional choice, after eight years of foreign policy setbacks, we will need to make some bold changes to help re-establish American leadership and credibility around the world. Rex Tillerson has spent his career overseeing one of our nation’s largest companies and growing its presence around the world. As both a business guy and chairman of the subcommittee that oversees State Department management, I look forward to hearing from Mr. Tillerson, examining his goals for the State Department, and learning more about his perspective on the global security crisis we face today.”

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons:

“President-elect Trump has chosen an expert negotiator to run the business of American diplomacy. A great friend to the National Association of Manufacturers, Rex Tillerson has spent his life making deals and getting results; now he can put his incomparable experience, talents and connections to work on behalf of our entire country. Manufacturers are encouraged to see a leader from the manufacturing economy take on the role of America’s chief diplomat, and we are pleased that Rex will bring a business perspective to the State Department.

“Beyond his rock star business credentials, Rex has been a staunch force for the dignity and opportunity of all citizens, and will no doubt work to make our nation and our world a better place. For all of his stellar accomplishments, Rex and his wife Renda are incredibly humble, decent and relatable people of the highest character. I wish them both the best in this important endeavor, and much success in the critical work that is ahead for Rex.”

North America’s Building Trades Unions:

“For almost a decade, North America’s Building Trades Unions have had the opportunity to work closely with Rex Tillerson in his current capacity as the Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobil.  During that time working directly with him, and also in conjunction with the Oil & Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, Mr. Tillerson demonstrated a strong intellect, a resilient and dynamic grasp of both global and domestic policy issues, and a deep and unyielding sense of patriotism for our great nation.

“Rex Tillerson has successfully shepherded Exxon Mobil through very tumultuous times in terms of global geo-politics.  With his intellect, his wit, and his deep understanding and knowledge of the world as it exists today, we believe he will be a tremendous success as Secretary of State, and we offer our full support for his confirmation.”

This post has been updated since publication.


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