President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Gov. Terry Branstad to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, pending Senate confirmation. The word from the Trump transition team comes a day after the two men met at Trump Tower in New York City.
If Branstad becomes ambassador, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would become the first woman to serve as Iowa governor.
The possibility that Branstad could be tapped for the Beijing post gained traction after Trump praised him at a pre-election rally in Sioux City, at which Trump said Branstad would be a prime candidate as "somebody who could take care of China."
Branstad has a long friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two men met when Xi visited Iowa in 1985, during Branstad's first term as governor. At the time, Xi was a Communist Party official who worked on agriculture matters for China.
Earlier today, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman referred to Branstad as an "old friend" when asked to comment on news of his nomination.
Trump is scheduled to visit Des Moines for a rally tomorrow night, as part of his "thank you tour" of several cities.