Pence to meet with former Texas Ag Commissioner Combs; Trump to meet with USTR candidate in Florida
In a possible further sign President-elect Donald Trump has not settled on a choice for Agriculture secretary, Vice President-elect Mike Pence is scheduled to meet today in Washington with former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, the Trump transition team confirmed today in a call to reporters.
Jason Miller, the Trump transition communications director, confirmed the Combs-Pence meeting while listing the people with whom Trump and Pence will meet and their schedules in the coming days. Miller did not elaborate on the Combs-Pence meeting.
The Texas Tribune reported Pence would meet with Combs, but highlighted the fact that she most recently was Texas state comptroller of public accounts (2007 to 2014).
Combs served as Texas agriculture commissioner from 1999 to 2007, and was the first woman to hold the post. Combs, 71, grew up on a ranch and has served on the boards of agriculture organizations, but in Republican terms is a relative liberal or moderate. Combs graduated from Vassar College and worked in advertising and finance in New York before she returned to Texas to go to law school.
She has encouraged healthy eating, and when her successor as agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, proposed gutting the healthier school meals and overturning restrictions on deep-fat frying, she wrote on an op-ed article in The Houston Chronicle questioning why he would take that action.
After supporting Carly Fiorina and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for president, Combs voted for Trump, but said, “I think Mr. Trump has an unfortunate habit — and I was the co-chair for Carly Fiorina — of not being particularly polite in public about women, but I’m also focused a lot of time on the economic issues,” according to the Texas Tribune report.
The Trump transition team also said in its call to reporters today that the president-elect would meet with Jovita Carranza, a former Small Business Administration deputy administrator and a candidate for U.S. Trade Representative. Responding to a question about who would lead trade negotiations, Miller confirmed that Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross “will be playing a big role in any trade particulars in this administration,” but that there is no plan to merge USTR with Commerce even though Trump talked about that on the campaign trail.
Miller said that Trump would remain at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach through the Christmas holiday. He also said that Trump will hold a news conference in January.