- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday said he will meet with President-elect Donald Trump this week amid speculation the Iowa governor could become the next U.S. ambassador to China.

Branstad told reporters during his weekly press conference that he has a tentative appointment to meet with Trump while the Republican governor is in New York for an economic development trip scheduled between Tuesday and Thursday.

“We don’t know for sure exactly when it’s going to be,” he said of the meeting. “Obviously the president-elect’s schedule is very busy and it changes.”

Branstad’s plans come days after he met with Vice President-elect Mike Pence during a trip to Washington, D.C. The governor said he also met with Reince Priebus, Trump’s new chief of staff.

Trump, who won Iowa, will hold a rally Thursday in Des Moines as part of a “thank you” tour that’s expected to take the president-elect around the country.

Branstad was a vocal supporter of Trump throughout most of the businessman’s presidential run. At a rally in Sioux City before the election, Trump praised Branstad’s knowledge of trade and called him a “prime candidate to take care of China.” The governor later dismissed questions about a possible ambassadorship, saying he wasn’t interested in living overseas.

Branstad was careful on Monday not to directly reference becoming U.S. ambassador to China. When asked whether he would accept the job if it’s offered, Branstad said Trump hadn’t offered him a position. But he also spoke about recent discussions with his family about possibly moving to China.

“It’s a decision that would be a family decision if indeed it is offered by the president-elect,” Branstad said. “And my wife and I have had several conversations. We’ve had family conversations with our children as well and we’re going to continue that.”

Branstad’s son, Eric, will also meet with Trump during the New York trip, according to the governor. The younger Branstad served as state director of Trump’s campaign during the election and organized events in Iowa.

Branstad is currently serving his sixth non-consecutive term and is the longest-serving governor in U.S. history. If he accepts any formal invitation to serve under a Trump presidency, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would take over the job for the remainder of the governor’s term, which ends in early 2019. She would also make history, becoming Iowa’s first female governor.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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