WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Donald Trump quipped on Tuesday that his secretary of state choice, Rex Tillerson, is finding his Senate confirmation tougher than his days as boss of Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) when he could cut addresses foreign nations.
Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence appeared together at the VIP dinner featuring nearly 150 diplomats from countries all over the world alongside U.S. lawmakers and men and women the Trump White House who is going to take turn on Friday.
"I do think it's tougher than he thought," Trump told the bunch, noting that Tillerson was in attendance. "He enters into a nation, takes the oil, assumes another country. It's tough addressing these politicians, right? He's likely to be so incredible," Trump said.
Tillerson has faced tough questions from some senators about his warm ties to Russia as being a top U.S. oil executive. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican, says he could vote against Tillerson.
At the black-tie dinner, both Trump and Pence sought to reassure countries that may be thinking about the "America First" agenda they want to pursue that could trigger rewriting the NATO alliance and trade deals.
"In reality and also this may perhaps be news to a lot of of you but I'm uncertain that your national media throughout America completely understands the president-elect," Pence said in introducing Trump.
"He's likely to stand tall for the world stage," Pence added. "Mr . trump might be a president who puts American first but we will work daily with countries around the world to transfer the peace and prosperity of your allies and our friends globally."